Google has finally made public its political ads library, the last among the trio which also includes Facebook and Twitter. 10 advertisers, including political parties, spent a total of Rs 3.7 crore on running 831 ads on Google. However, Facebook still dominates online political ad spend, with Rs 10.32 crore spent on running over 50,000 ads since February 2019. Quite odd, but video analytics company Vidooly is among those entities spending on political ads, according to Google, and were shut down because they were violating Google’s ad policies.
Some issues with Google’s library:
1. The ad spend brackets are too large: The cost brackets for the ads are divided into five: Over Rs 2.5 lakhs, between Rs 1.5 to 2.5 lakhs, between Rs 2,500 to Rs 1.25 lakh, between Rs 250 to Rs 2500, and below Rs 250. The ranges are too large and need to be narrower to get even a rough estimate of how the party may have spent.
2. Technical issues: The CSV files which give insight into the data has numbers from the US, Google said its working on it but does not have a timeline by which this will be fixed. Another technical issue, Congress ran only ads for its manifesto, which was released on April 2. The ads, however, are dated for a week earlier on March 25. Did the other ads have date errors too?
Bhartiya Janata Party
The BJP spent Rs 1.21 crore on running 554 political ads between February 19th to April 4t
1. Ads costing between Rs 1.5 lakh to over Rs 2.5 lakh, video ads expensive, and the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign: The BJP ran 12 ads costing over Rs 2.5 lakh each, of which eight were video ads. Three of those ads were campaigns for Main Bhi Chowkidar, two of them ran for 8 days and garnered anywhere between 10 lakh to 1 crore impressions each. Another ran for three days at the end of March, and got the same range of views. 2 video ads were Mera booth Mazbooth Campaign, one video got anywhere between 10 lakh to 1 crore impressions, another got over 1 crore impressions. The BJP ran five ads costing between Rs 1.5-2.5 lakh, two of those were video ads. One was a Main Bhi Chowkidar ad, which ran for eight days and garnered 10 lakh to 1 crore views. Most Main Bhi Chowkidar ads in the BJP campaign began running March 23 onwards. Its worth noting that video ads ran only in these two brackets, since they evidently are more expensive.
2. (Phir ek baar) Main Bhi Chowkidar: 145 ads costing between Rs 2,500 to Rs 1.25 lakh, 110 of these ads earned between 1 lakh to 10 lakh impressions each, 80 of these ads were for the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign, largely being image ads. Only eight of them were video ads, each running for three days. Its worth noting that 19 of the ads on which the BJP spent money violated Google’s ad policies, although its unclear what policy they violated.
3. Cheaper ads floated much more than expensive ads: BJP floated 101 ads costing between Rs 250-Rs 2500, 18 of these ads violated Google’s policies. Half (52) of these were ads for the Main Bhi Chowkidaar campaign, almost all were image ads. Almost half – or 290 out of 554 ads – of the BJP’s ads cost Rs below Rs 250, a large number of these ads were targeted to reached below 10,000 people, and some were targeted to reach between 10,000 to 1 lakh people. 94 of these ads were largely image ads for the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign. However, 147 of these (290) ads violated Google’s advertising policies.
Highest spender: Telugu Desam Party, via 3 consultancy firms
In all there are 11 verified political advertisers floating ads on Google. The top individual spender is the BJP which has spent Rs 1.2 crore on political ads on Google. However, the Telugu Desam Party has floated ads via three political consultancy groups – Digitant Consulting Pvt Ltd, Ethinos Digital Marketing Private Limited, and Ethinos Digital Marketing Private Limited.
TDP and its affiliates spent nearly Rs 1.5 crores on 106 ads. Pramanya Strategy Consulting spent Rs 8.5 lakhs on 53 ads, TDP floated a total of 106 ads via all three firms. Interestingly, all of Ethinos’ 17 ads which cost over Rs 1.5 lakh, violated Google’s advertisements policy. Digitant’s 36 ads were largely image ads; eight of those ads were unavailable although its unclear why. For example, 16 of Pramanya’s ads were video ads, some of them gained 1 lakh to 10 lakh impressions, others gathered 10 lakh to 1 crore impressions. Except for two ads, all ads floated by Digitant were image ads.
On the whole, the TDP floated 106 ads via its affiliates at a total cost of Rs 1.5 crore, while the BJP spent Rs 1.2 crore on 554 ads during the same period. This is reflected in the fact that Pramanya did not float a single ad costing below Rs 2,500 while the other two firms posted a negligible number on ads costing below Rs 2,500. The BJP spent lesser money than the TDP, but floated 5 times that number of ads since they floated a larger number of cheaper ads, rather than a smaller number of expensive ads.
Congress: only manifesto ads
The Congress has only spent on image graphics of the Congress manifesto with Rahul Gandhi’s face and the promise pasted next to it. It ran 14 such ads spending a little over Rs 54,000 on them. 11 of these ads reached between 1 to 10 lakh people. The rest three garnered between 10,000 to 1 lakh impressions. All ads were images; no videos ads were floated. Its worth noting that the INC officially did not float any ads before the manifesto release either on Google or YouTube.
Its also worth noting that the Congress ads are all dated for March 25, running for a day, but the Congress released its manifesto only on April 2. So looks like a Google error?
The YSR Congress floated 11 video ads; most floated for three days but a few floated for a week, or even 11 days. 11 of there ads were ‘unavailable’ and five of them violated Google’s advertising policies. On the whole, the party spent over Rs 1 crore on 107 ads. The rest 96 ads were all image/banner ads.
Vidooly Media floated two political ads (!)
Vidooly Media Tech, a Noida-based video analytics firm, also floated two political ads costing Rs 1300 but both ads couldn’t be seen as they were violating Google’s ad policies. Vidooly spent between Rs 250 to Rs 2500 on the ads, one ran for for seven days and another for 11 days.