Germany’s political parties have so far spent more than €800,000 on Facebook adverts in the run-up to the European elections. That is according to the advertising report published by the social network, which Der Spiegel has analysed.
The SPD and the CDU have spent the most on adverts (around €256,000 and €238,000 respectively). The Greens (€112,000) and the liberal FDP (€101,000) are quite some distance behind. Spending by all the other parties is much lower yet. For example, the Humanist Party has spent more more than the Left Party.
Spending almost €10,000, the AfD lies just behind Volt and DiEM25. That could be because AfD has just not needed Facebook adverts: many users simply share AfD posts anyway. A study recently showed that 85% of all Facebook posts created by political parties and shared by users were from the AfD.
Different advertising strategies
German parties have taken very different strategies with their Facebook campaigns. That becomes clear if you you compare their total spending with the number of individual adverts: The CSU, the Bavarian sister party of the CDU, spent just over €41,000 for exactly 20 adverts on Facebook. That’s more than €2,000 per advert. In contrast, the CDU and SPD split their six-figure ad budgets between thousands of individual adverts, meaning they spent on average less than €20 per advert.
Facebook provides parties and other advertisers with a bespoke tool that allows them to decide which target groups should receive each advert and how much money they want to spend on them. In other words, how many users the adverts should be shown to.
Screenshot: Facebook Ad Manager
The data published by Facebook shows that the CDU, SPD, FDP and the Greens make lots of smaller payments. Using thousands of individual adverts gives them a way of determining particular key groups – what’s known as targeting. The data shows that:
- The CDU has bet on geotargeting. It has set adverts up so that many are only displayed to users from particular regions in Germany, for example only to people who live in a certain post code.
- The SPD has gone for gender-specific targeting. More than two thirds of adverts that were displayed from the Facebook page of the SPD or their lead candidate Katarina Barley were shown uniquely to men or women.
- The FDP has also devoted a large proportion of its adverts to either men or women. It has also used geotargeting.
- The Greens are also using geotargeting.
Perhaps the best-known purpose of targeting is to personalise adverts, whether based on gender, location or a whole host of other specificities that Facebook knows about its users. However, when taken to extremes, targeting can be misused so that an advert’s content is tailored to defined audiences – and even in contradiction to those adverts received by