Tamil Nadu leads on political ad spends on digital media

As per Google Transparency Report, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam spent close to Rs 21 crores on more than 2000 ads on Google

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: May 6, 2021 8:56 AM  | 4 min read
Tamil nadu

Be it the sudden surge in the number of internet users during the pandemic or simply the mounting power of digital media, the 2021 assembly elections saw a huge jump when it comes to political advertising.  Tamil Nadu alone spent close to Rs 40 crore on Google and Facebook ads during the elections.

As per the numbers from the Google Transparency Report, Tamil Nadu was the highest spender on digital political advertising with spends to the tune of Rs 33 crore. Google ads include political ads on not just Google but also YouTube, and other partner properties. The Tamil Nadu numbers are a sum of ads that feature or are run by a political party, a political candidate, or a current member of the Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha.

According to political analyst Sumanth Raman, the growth in digital spends from Tamil Nadu in the 2021 elections is backed by multiple factors. “If someone has to reach a population aged under 55 the easiest way to do it in Tamil Nadu is to reach them on their smartphones. The state has a high internet penetration and a vibrant social media ecosystem in Tamil. It was only in the last week that parties went all out on print. The majority of the advertising in the state was done digitally because it is easier and faster to set a narrative through a YouTube video than any other traditional medium at least in Tamil Nadu, he said.

On the other hand, on Facebook (as per Facebook Ad Library records), the state spent around Rs 4.5 crore between January and April.

Google ads saw higher spends from states and individual parties. As per the report, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) spent close to Rs 21 crores on more than 2000 ads on Google.

While small spends between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 30 lakh were done in the last few months of 2020, the political ad spree peaked between January and April, the highest being spent in the last week of March. DMK spent Rs 8.34 crore during this week. On Facebook, DMK spent close to Rs 1.7 crore on pages like Ondrinaivom Vaa and M. K. Stalin.

"In Tamil Nadu, political parties have very deep pockets and it is perhaps the highest spender for online campaigns,” said Ambika Sharma, Founder & MD, Pulp Strategy. 

“This year the ads have improved and have a good storytelling method,” she added.

“While the digital spends are huge it is not done in bulk. Spends on Google ads, be it on any of their platforms range between as low as under Rs 250 per ad to as much as Rs 1.25 lakhs per ad. A lot of these ads have a reach of close to one million people. With Google focusing on language products it has become easier for parties to provide targeted content and that is the reason why spends have touched an all-time high this elections. Even if we compare Tamil Nadu numbers to Maharashtra or Delhi that also went to polls in 2019 and 2020, Google ad spends were between Rs 3.3 crore and Rs 6.4 crore. Tamil Nadu set new records in election campaigns when it comes to digital spends,” said a political strategist working for the southern states.

As per the Google Transparency Report, after DMK, BJP was the second-highest spender on Google ads. However, most of the spends by the party on the platform started in late February and peaked in mid-March when they spent upwards of Rs 70 lakh in a single week. On Facebook, however, TMCP took the lead followed by BJP. While the former spent Rs 3.6 crore on ads about social issues, elections or politics on Facebook in the last three months, BJP West Bengal ended up spending Rs 2.04 crore approximately on 2239 ads in the period. The parties Assam wing also spend about Rs 35 lakh on Facebook on 143 ads. 

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