TRENDS & 'TALES

£2.5M spent across 20,000+ ads on Facebook alone: The battle for our screens in the UK election

EDITORS NOTE: Before we begin, this article analyses and reviews how Facebook Ads is being used to drive the 2019 general election. It is not politically driven.



Voting day in the December general election is now just one week away, after another year of uncertainty and chaos in Westminster and across the nation.


As ever, the race is close, the polling data is questionable and no-one knows for certain who will come out on top... and neither do I! But, thanks to Facebook's new outlook on transparency (N.B. I never, ever, thought I would hear myself say these words), we can now take a look inside the political campaign machine(s) - specifically understanding how each party is utilising Facebook Ads to dominate our screens in the hope for that all important vote.


WAIT... FACEBOOK HAS A NEW OUTLOOK ON TRANSPARENCY?

To prevent another Cambridge Analytica situation, Facebook changed its view on transparency and with it, updated the infamous Facebook’s Ads Archive that launched in May 2018. Previously, it only included ads related to politics or policy issues, but now shows all active ads about anything, as well as inactive political and issue ads. Now you can search Facebook for how much Trump has spent on ads in the past year or which Facebook Pages’ ads reference immigration. It’s all part of Facebook’s new Ad Library that makes good on its promise to increase transparency after the social network’s ads were used to try to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.


...but, enough about Facebook. In the UK general election, which party is currently leading the race to dominate our screens? As of writing this article (05/12/2019), in order of total money spent, the results are as follows:


We can reveal the Liberal Democrats are the biggest spender on Facebook Ads, splashing out just shy of £1M since their campaign launched, running over 7000 different ads with different persuasive messaging.


BREAKDOWN OF RESULTS:

  1. Liberal Democrats: Total spend £945,052 across ~7600 ads

  2. The Labour Party: Total spend £701,530 across ~2800 ads

  3. The Brexit Party: Total spend £453,366 across ~1900 ads

  4. Conservatives: Total spend £441,213 across ~7300 ads

  5. Scottish National Party: Total spend £3,172 across ~2 ads


So what does this tell us? On its own, not very much... but utilising the extremely helpful search/filter options on Facebook's Ad Library, we can take a deep dive into which campaign messaging each party cares about the most and also the least.


We have pulled together an analysis of the most popular themes mentioned across all of the ads that are currently live on Facebook for the UK general election, broken down by each political party. For each campaign message, we have used a colour scale to identify which party talks the most/least about this topic in their ads (green being the highest and red being the lowest).


Currently, Brexit is the #1 most talked about message across all parties, which may not come as much of a surprise; however we were surprised to see that both "Labour" and "Corbyn"(separately) featured heavily in ads for all parties - except SNP, who clearly are not big fans of The Facebook!



SUMMARY OF PARTY MESSAGING:


Liberal Democrats

  • Most used: Stop, Brexit, Britain,

  • Least used: NHS, Invest, People,

  • Total: ~7600 ad variations


Conservatives

  • Most used: Brexit, NHS, Chaos

  • Least used: Green/Eco, Boris, People

  • Total: ~7300 ad variations


The Labour Party

  • Most used: Labour, People, Britain

  • Least used: Chaos, Corbyn, Invest

  • Total: ~2800 ad variations


The Brexit Party

  • Most used: Brexit, Labour, Corbyn

  • Least used: Economy, NHS, Chaos

  • Total: ~1900 ad variations


Scottish National Party

  • Most used: Brexit, Tory

  • Least used: n/a

  • Total: ~2 ad variations



Only time will tell as to how much of an impact having an effective Facebook Ads / Digital strategy will have on the end result...


Until next time!

-Chris



See the campaigns in all their glory for yourself. Click on the links (below) to jump into the ads the political parties are running, how much they are spending and what message they are promoting.



Entroxy are the navigators of the digital jungle in which we now all live, and must survive. A blend of creative agency and analytical consultancy, our innovative, targeted campaigns help brands to cut through this ever-growing wilderness to accelerate both growth and direct revenue. For more information about Entroxy, or if you'd like to get in touch, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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