BJP leads in Facebook political ad spends for Maharashtra polls

As Maharashtra gets set to cast its vote on October 21, exchange4media takes a look at Facebook Ad Library’s political ad spend numbers

by Shikha Paliwal
Published - Oct 17, 2019 8:21 AM Updated: Oct 17, 2019 9:46 AM
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In this digital era, social media is being seen as a powerful tool, especially with respect to elections. With millions tapping and swiping through social media platforms, political parties are making a beeline for these platforms before any election.

With Maharashtra set to vote on October 21, we looked up Facebook Ad Library to understand how much money has been pumped onto this platform through political ads.

After being in the eye of the storm, post the US elections, Facebook now has clear guidelines for political ads in several countries. For India, their website states: “If you're an advertiser in India and an advertiser targeting India and plan to run ads about social issues, elections or politics, you'll need to go through an ad authorisation process.” The platform has laid down in great detail the information needed and the steps that should be taken to get authorisation to run ads about social issues, elections or politics.

It is for this reason that the platform through its Facebook Ad Library can make public the money that has been spent on political ads. The data posted on the page is as part of Facebook’s efforts to ensure transparency in advertising.

Though ads are posted through affiliates of political parties too, we have put together only the ad spends on pages belonging to the major political parties for Maharashtra alone. The data collected is for the period September 13 to October 12, 2019.

According to this data, it is BJP that has emerged as the top spender with Rs 536,590 spent on 71 advertisements. This seems like a mammoth amount when compared to other political parties in the state. While the BJP’s ally Shiv Sena has spent Rs 45,013 on a mere 4 ads, Indian National Congress has spent Rs 47,304 on 33 ads and NCP Rs 26,660 on 50 ads for the same period.

However, as mentioned earlier the above ad spends are marked under the name of the main political parties in the state but as one rummages through the ad spends on the several pages listed on

Facebook’s Ad Library, party affiliates throw up bigger numbers on both ad spends and the number of ads mentioned. Take for example, BJP’s affiliate Distoy Farak Shivashahi Parat which has spent Rs 9,04,995 on 522 ads for the above mentioned period. Similarly, INC’s The Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress has spent close to Rs 1,66,692 on 163 ads and Shiv Sena’s Indian Political Action Committee Rs 41,150 on 14 ads.

Political leaders of various parties too post ads in their individual capacities, the data for which is publicly available on the Facebook Ad Library.

Social media is key to campaigning given its wide user base. It is not Facebook alone that is part of the social media strategy of political parties but popular apps like WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter too are part of this process. Digital platforms bring with them data analytics and targeted communication and given the presence of all political heavyweights it is evident that any election media planning, big or small, is now incomplete without them.

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