EU elections: Labour outspends rival Scottish parties on Facebook adverts

Political parties across the UK spend thousands on Facebook advertising
Political parties across the UK spend thousands on Facebook advertising
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Labour spent more than double on Facebook adverts than the other Scottish parties combined in the final weeks before the European elections.

The American social media giant began making public all income from political adverts last year following a string of controversies that saw it accused of profiting from so-called fake news.

Data published this week revealed that UK parties have spent tens of thousands on online adverts encouraging voters to back them at today’s poll.

The Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage shelled out £99,241 on 124 separate ads from April 22-May 21, while Change UK paid £91,342 on 711 adverts during the same period - with £87,880 being spent in the last week alone.

Spending by political parties north of the Border was more modest in comparison, with Scottish Labour paying £4,639 for 19 adverts. The central UK Labour party spent £62,306.

READ MORE: Sturgeon says vote for SNP would ‘show Scotland won’t be ignored’

The Scottish Conservatives spent £1,593 while the Scottish Greens paid £631.

The SNP spent just £469 in the weeks before the polls opened.

Depute leader Keith Brown said: “The SNP is a people-powered political party, and this means we can reach the population through social media in Scotland in a way that other political parties can’t. Thousands of people share SNP content with their friends, family and followers. Other parties need to pay to reach the people we reach organically. During the last month, our organic reach surpassed that of both the UK Tory and UK Labour parties.”

The totals reported by Facebook cover only official pages run by parties and do not include adverts paid for by individual candidates. Many parties run several social media profiles used for a variety of promotional work.

For example, the Scots Tories spent a further £1,024 promoting party leader Ruth Davidson’s official Facebook page in the past month.

Advertising on social media has become a crucial campaigning tool for political parties in the last decade - but spending the most cash does not always equal the most exposure on major sites such as Facebook.

In the run up to the snap general election in 2017 Labour spent less on Facebook ads across the UK than the Conservatives but had a higher engagement rate on the site.

All parties spent around £3m on Facebook ads between them at the 2017 vote, with the Conservatives spending twice as much as the other parties combined.

Spending is far higher on online adverts in the US, where the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent $81m+ between them on Facebook ads alone in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.