For most students of political science, it’s a commonly spouted fact that “the party with the biggest bucks, wins the election.”

The reality is that if your party can’t raise enough money for some serious TV, radio, newspaper and billboard / bus stop ads, never mind bussing people around for 10 daily photo opps around the country. Or supporting volunteers lunches and expenses and local leafleting, you may as well pack up and go home.

But in the digital era, things changed radically. After the emphatic election of Obama when he connected directly with the electorate online and swooped the Democratic nomination from under Hilary Clinton’s nose, the shape of online electioneering changed drastically.

Nowadays, every self-respecting political party and leader has their legions of volunteers and fans marching online to persuade, cajole, influence and coral opinion in their favour. You can find them in your newsfeed, in the various Facebook and LinkedIn groups and using all the relevant hashtags in order to be part of the conversation.

Meanwhile at party central HQ, smart digital people are busy creating templates, local strategies, videos, branding … and advertising is being set up to convince and convert targeted groups of people to gain the competitive edge.

So far, so acceptable. Then came Cambridge Analytica who exposed the fact that when you know what you’re doing online, and you’re very underhand with it, you can have a massive impact online.

Unfair influence? Or just ahead of the game?

Facebook’s response has been to increase transparency for all political ads. In other words, nowadays, you can now see all the Ads being set up by the Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat and all other political parties in all their glorious detail.

Here is the full range of political ads that are running today, Monday morning 11th November, by the main political parties in the run up to the UK 2019 General Election.

Conservative Party Facebook and Instagram Ads

The Conservative Party, with 690k fans on Facebook and 79.2k on Instagram has spent £60,059 on Facebook / Instagram ads over the last 7 days.

The first ad re Ian Austin is targeted at Wales exclusively. Interestingly, the only people that have seen the ad aged 25-34 are men. For every other age bracket, double the amount of men have seen the ad than women.

The second ad attacking the SNP again seems to be targeted exclusively at men 18-34 and in the other age brackets, men are the primary targets / consumers of the ad. Again, this ad is running mainly in Wales (96%) and England (4%).

The third ad is a video ad on ‘Parliament in gridlock’ and has had £2.5k spent on it. This ad is exclusively targeted at women in Wales (94%) and England (5%) on Facebook and Instagram. 200,00 women have already seen it

The fourth ad is another video ad and has had the same £2.5k spent on it. But this time, it’s been targeted exclusively at 18-34 year old men mainly in England (93%) and a bit in Wales (6%).

The final video ad attacking Labour has had £399 spent on it and been seen by up to 15k people, again, mainly men between 18-65. Once again, the Conservative Party has chosen not to target any resources or budget at Scotland by targeting Wales (94%) and England (5%).

The Labour Party General Election Facebook and Instagram Ads

On the other hand, Labour, with over 1 million fans on Facebook and 23.2k on Instagram has spent £52,263 in the last 7 days and appears to be leading with a more positive campaign (ie not campaigning against other parties or leaders) such as these ones.

There are 7 ads in total based on the same or similar creative (images, videos, copy, call to action).

Interestingly, the majority of ads appear to be aimed at men and women in Wales and England but the overall reach in all age brackets was overwhelmingly women.

The second is targeted at England to all age brackets but again, women seem to be the main target. The third is targeted at Scotland (95%) and England (4%) where again the overwhelming reach appears to be to women across all age brackets. The fourth ad is targeted at England (91%) and Wales (6%), again with a majority of women responding / targeted.The fifth ad is targeted at England (79%) Scotland (11%) and Wales (8%) with an emphasis on men 18-34.

The Liberal Democrat Party Facebook and Instagram Ads

The Liberal Democratic Party, with 206k fans, has spent £32,526 in the last 7 days and only has one video ad on Facebook and Instagram targeted at 18-44 year olds in England. Although the vast majority of viewers of the ads are 25-34 year olds.

Liberal Democrat General Election Facebook and Instagram Ad

The SNP Party Facebook and Instagram Ads

The SNP Party, with almost 297,883 fans on Facebook, has spent £0 on any ads in the last 7 days.

The Brexit Party Facebook and Instagram Ads

The Brexit Party, with 178k fans on Facebook and 46.7k on Instagram has spent £17,005 in the last 7 days and has 5 ads running.

The first ad is targeted at all of the UK: England (87%), Wales (6%), Scotland (4%) and Northern Ireland (2%). £699 has been spent for this ad to be seen by up to 20k men and women. The largest ad audience is men over 45. All the other ads are targeted at England with a majority of men targeted. The only female demographic that seems to be giving some kind of response to the ads are women over 55.

The Democratic and Unionist Party Facebook and Instagram Ads

Zero! With 19k fans on Facebook.


From a marketing perspective, I’d have to conclude that the Conservative and Brexit Parties have the leading edge with Ads so far. Not only are they using video (far more impactful than images) but they are leading with key messages on specific topics, rather than generic ‘support us’ and ‘share with mates.’

Strangely, barely any party is targeting Scotland at all. Is it really such a done-deal for the SNP that even they won’t invest a penny in ads for their core demographic?

Tomorrow, if you wish, I will give you commentary on the organic (without ads) campaign being run by all the main parties. Let me know below in the comments.

Get Your Business Ready for Xmas

As you can see, merely posting on social media is not marketing. It’s what we call ‘social media publishing.’

There are in fact, four parts to marketing:

  1. Content Creation
  2. Content Distribution
  3. Content Amplification to Targeted Demographics
  4. Measure traffic to website and leads / impressions generated

Contact us now to discuss how to get your business or charity the leading edge online for the festive period.

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