Know what your pol spends on Facebook ads?

Advertising on social media is fast becoming a targeted means of accessing particular sections of the community. Our latest gadgets highlighting Facebook advertising allow you to dig into how your politicians are advertising.

Mapping FB ads

Facebook advertising is interesting because the company publishes data in the Ad Library Report. The existence of the this transparency data is great. But, as is so often the case, it’s not exactly user-friendly. So we’ve made an effort to surface the data in a way which makes is a bit more useful in an Australian political context.

The gadgets

There are four new gadgets:


All of this data comes from the Facebook Ad Library which aggregates data on ads about social issues, elections or politics.- so we thank them for that. It also means you can basically get the same info by going to the Ad Library Report page. But there are some serious deficiencies with that page, nicely summarised in this article.

So our effort is aimed at making this easier to use if you’re looking at Australian politicians and politics. The big differences are:

  • We’ve created a persistent list of Federal politicians so you don’t need to keep inputting the same info every time you visit.
  • We’ve aggregated spend by Federal politician from separately listed pages.
  • You can view Federal politicians by their party and electorate not just as unrelated individuals.

It would be nice to see all of the social media spend by our politicians across platforms as it’s pretty clear that social media advertising is becoming increasingly significant. It’s arguable that it would be even more significant – than the expensive, scatter-gun approach of leaflet distribution – if it were not for the fact that sitting politicians get to distribute so much paper paid for by the public purse. That sets up a dynamic which sees paper leaflets, and printed coflutes, as being essential to credibility.

However, the significance of Facebook’s capacity to reach beyond the bounds of an electorate and to target otherwise widespread individuals shouldn’t be under-estimated. That the biggest spenders seem to be politicians trying to get a message out beyond the confines of their own electorate would argue that is the case.

Like all the expenses data (to see all Political Gadgets‘ expenses gadgets in one place click here) these slices of how politicians are spending money helps give an insight into what they are doing and thinking – and maybe helps keep the a bit more honest.

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