Candidates to the European Parliament spent hundreds of thousands of PLN on Facebook ads. The most money was spent on European Coalition’s profiles. Confederation, on the other hand, has clearly been investing in the nationalist leader Krzysztof Bosak.
Since mid-April, Facebook has been making data available about the political ads placed on their platform. We can see who placed the ads, what political committee signed for them, and how much they cost. We made a detailed analysis of the data over a 30 day-period in the campaign, between April 20 and May 19.
We found that:
● Between April 20 and May 19, the profile with the highest expense on ads was for a Spring candidate from Western Pomerania, Sven Zagała.
● Among the profiles for the candidates of Law and Justice, the most money was invested in the profile belonging to Anna Fotyga.
● Parties and politicians can target their ads on Facebook very precisely, indicating the national region and the viewer’s gender and interests, as well as many other filters.
Now we can also see that after the election debate on public television, Confederation, which had previously been spending mainly on its electoral committee profile, began to invest in the name and face of its leader, Krzysztof Bosak.
European Coalition spent the most
298,000 PLN (approx. €70,000) were spent on Facebook ads by the European Coalition profile and European Coalition candidates between April 20 and May 19. Out of this, 185,000 PLN were for candidate ads, and 113,000 PLN for ads linked to the electoral committee’s fan page itself.
Significantly less was spent on ads by the remaining electoral committees. Just under 115,000 PLN were spent on ads placed through Confederation profiles and Confederation candidates. Furthermore, this electoral committee did not promote itself much through the profiles of the candidates themselves – it concentrated on the profiles of the party and the coalition.
A similar amount was spent on Facebook ads placed on the fan pages of the Law and Justice and Spring electoral committees. Relatively little was spent by Kukiz’15.
This ranking could change, however. It does not take into account the funds spent during the last weeks of the campaign. When browsing the political ads on Facebook, for instance, one can notice a considerable spike in activity from Kukiz’15 candidates.
After the debate, Confederation bets on Bosak
Placing ads on Facebook allows the client to react rapidly to what is happening. We clearly see this happening at the moment when we observe the ads placed by Confederation.
Many commentators found that Krzysztof Bosak did well during the televised debate between the candidates for the European Parliament. And his electoral committee reacted – while browsing through Facebook political ads we can see that the nationalists invested in the promotion of this candidate in particular. On May 23, the day of the debate, as many as seven different ad campaigns with his name and photo were launched.
Confederation’s visibly increased its activity at the very end of the campaign: between May 16 and May 22 (our analysis comprises 30 days, to May 19), the party paid 91,000 PLN for 167 ads, while European Coalition spent 57,000 PLN on 60 ads, and Law and Justice spent 25,000 PLN on 70 ads.
Biggest spender in Western Pomerania
As far as candidate profiles are concerned, the biggest spender was Sven Zagała – the Spring candidate in Western Pomerania. During the month of the study, over 24,000 PLN were spent on ads connected with his profile.
The leading spenders on Facebook ads
Which candidate fan page spent the most on Facebook ads? The top 20, data in PLN.
The first places in the ranking are dominated by European Coalition candidates. Among Law and Justice candidates, the biggest spending profile belongs to Anna Fotyga. During the analyzed period, her ads cost in total over 11,000 PLN.
The graph is interactive. Click on the bubble to see more.
Regarding the profiles of the candidates themselves, the biggest spender was Sven Zagała, Wiosna’s candidate in Western Pomerania. During the analyzed period, ads connected with his profile cost a total of over 24,000 PLN.
When ordering an ad on Facebook, a politician (or the agency serving him or her) can precisely target his or her potential voters. The customer can specify whether the ad is to be seen by women or by men and further filter by age and place of residence. As the electoral districts are large – sometimes encompassing two voivodeships – politicians generally direct their ads to the inhabitants of entire regions.
For instance, one of Anna Fotyga’s ads, in which the Law and Justice candidate “thanks the President for his words of support, which were unusually important for her,” was directed exclusively at the inhabitants of the Pomerania voivodeship, especially young people (under 34 years of age). Men were dominant among recipients in the youngest age group (18-24 years of age).
If you like Kukiz, you’ll see Bosak
In addition, Facebook algorithms make it possible to target ads on the basis of likes and interests. Our colleague saw an ad for Adam Bielan on his wall. He clicked in the “I” placed in the corner of the ad and saw why Facebook considered the ad would interest him. It emerged that it was in connection with his interest in religion.
In the case of ads for Gawkowski, the reason was an interest in LGBT issues. In the case of ads for Krzysztof Bosak, the reason was an interest in…Paweł Kukiz.
We see other interesting examples as well.
The actress Dominika Chorsińska (also known as Dominika Figurska), who has been a Mazovia Local-Government Assembly member from Law and Justice since the autumn, directs ads to people who liked the Law and Justice fan page.
In contrast, Piotr Ikonowicz, running for the Left Together lists in Łódź, directs his ads to a wide range of recipients. In the campaign below he didn’t define a group of recipients precisely.
What is the objective of an ad?
The client can also define the objective of the ad. After seeing the ad, should the user “like” it? Or share it with friends, or join in an event organized by the politician?
Politicians can also choose where the ad should appear on the page: on the wall or in a side column. The first option is most often chosen.
In addition, the client can decide whether the ad should appear on Instagram or Messenger as well. These apps also belong to Facebook.
Since mid-April, Facebook has been publishing data about how politicians advertise on the platform and what amounts they spend. Since then, Facebook has begun providing data on every ad, lising who ordered and paid for it. Moreover, people who want to place such ads must now go through an authorization process.
All political ads can now be seen in a special Facebook “ad library”.