In Bengal’s digital politics, Mamata’s TMC takes the lead with highest spends on Facebook

In a month’s time, the 'Banglar Gorbo Mamata' page has spent over Rs 80 lakh on 90 Facebook ads, turning out to be the highest spender in the period between February 6 and March 7, 2021

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Mar 10, 2021 8:37 AM  | 4 min read

With hardly few weeks left for the Bengal assembly elections, political campaigning is now reaching its peak both on ground and digitally. Talking of digital, Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s initiatives led by Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) is leading the race when it comes ad spends on Facebook.

In a month’s time, the Banglar Gorbo Mamata by I-PAC has spent as much as Rs 80,74,676 on 90 ads on Facebook, turning out to be the highest spender in the period between February 6 and March 7, 2021. With the election fever catching on fast, close to 30% of this spent has been done in the last seven days between March 2 and March 8, 2021 where the page spent Rs 2,289,436 on ads about social issues, elections or politics on the platform.

In fact, the party has been very active on Facebook since December. Between the first week of December and now the party spent close to Rs1.4 crore on Facebook ads.

“The last few weeks before the state goes into polls are very crucial for the parties. The parties use this time to gain confidence of loyal voters and also attract the attention of the undecided voters. Facebook has remained one of the most important medium over time to target voters and PK is using it to the fullest by promoting content from not the party’s official page but also other allied pages,” said a political commentator.

However it is not just Didi but all political parties are spending on Facebook. In the last one month, the highest spend on Facebook ads have been from Bengal. The state saw spends to the tune of Rs12,929,286 on the platform.

Just about every political party, be it TMC or BJP or the Congress, has been using social and digital media extensively to swing voter sentiment or opinion in the last stretch before the polls.

While TMC is the highest spender on Facebook ads, BJP comes in as a close second on the platform. The ‘Amar Poribar BJP Poribar’ page by BJP is one of the highest spenders from the state on Facebook. According to Facebook Ad Library, they spent Rs 385,753 in the last 30 days. Another page by the party called ‘BJP West Bengal’ spent Rs 216,853 in the same period.

“The BJP has been actively using the digital medium over the last few years to speak out about their initiatives and appeal to the youth both in urban and rural parts of the country. The technology savvy party realized the potential of digital media early and organized IT workshops in West Bengal, months ahead of the Lok Sabha 2019 elections and created a massive network to manage their campaign blueprint. This gave BJP some solid inroads into the bastion of the fiery state leader, Mamata Banerjee,” said Anup Sharma, an independent communication consultant.

The differentiating factor, according to analysts and experts watching the election, is that the BJP uses other digital tools too to create hyperlocal or ground connect. The party leverages User Generated Content in addition to propagation of news and party messaging using messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, FB Messenger and even Signal. Other parties also use these apps but to a much lesser extent.

While the parties go aggressive on digital, Facebook rakes in huge revenues from political ads. For instance, BJP alone has spent over Rs4.5 crore on political ads on Facebook in the last one year.

“When Chinese apps were banned, there was an ‘Atmanirbhar’ wave wherein a number of Indian apps came into the market. Many thought some of them would catch the imagination of the people and would become the next TikTok. But unfortunately that hasn't happened yet and that is why we see a further consolidation of political ad-dollars in the pockets of big tech brands (namely Facebook and Google)," said a senior digital expert.

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