Labour and Conservatives spend big on early election campaign – here's who they're targeting

Labour and the Conservative Party are chasing different groups of people online with their campaign adverts – and one is spending far more than the other.
Online campaign correspondent
Tuesday 28 May 2024 17:55, UK
This is fast shaping up to be the biggest spending election ever – and already the Conservatives are spending their cash begging their voters not to defect to Reform.
Take paid political adverts on Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook. Labour started strong and is still seriously outpacing the Conservatives.
Sky News is partnering with Who Targets Me, which tracks and analyses political ad spending, throughout this general election.
And the picture on Google-owned sites – we’re mainly talking about YouTube – is even more stark.
Here, the Conservatives have spent £50,200 since May 22, according to Who Targets Me. Labour has spent £250,350 – more than five times more.
Put it another way – that’s roughly 10 million advert plays versus 50 million.
„Looking back at say the 2019 General Election, you’d say that’s almost like final-week-of-the-campaign spending that [Labour] are doing already,” says Sam Jeffers, executive director of Who Targets Me. „So that’s quite a big shift. 2019, 2017, things would have started off much more slowly.
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„This time around, it’s going really, really fast.”
The sorts of videos Labour are spending money on are interesting.
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Along with lots of new videos to coincide with today’s speech by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves about the economy, over the last few days we’ve also seen the launch of dozens of local campaign videos, targeted at those specific constituencies.
We simply haven’t seen that level of preparedness and organisation from the Conservatives so far.
Compare that with the Tory spend over on Meta.
The first thing to note is that the majority of the most recent adverts being put out are attacks on Labour and Keir Starmer, specifically around the issue of immigration. And secondly, they are overwhelmingly targeted at men aged 45 and older.
That same demographic is being targeted by adverts proclaiming that a vote for Reform is a vote for Labour.
This is the demographic that the Conservatives most want to reach – and also the demographic it is perhaps most worried about losing.
Finally, the Conservatives’ latest advertisement represents a slight change.
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It’s still an attack ad, but it’s glossy and well-produced, showing Keir Starmer as an action figure that comes in many guises – an echo of their central theme so far. They’ve been formatting that video differently for different platforms and pushing it out.
It’s an echo of when a memorable billboard campaign might become the defining image of a campaign – or at least it’s an attempt to recapture that.
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And it works as a good illustration of the different ways of approaching paid advertising: hyper-local and fairly cheap YouTube videos for candidates versus a centralised, high-impact campaign.
Both parties will mix and match both approaches over the coming weeks

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