Spending on Facebook and Instagram advertising by the two main political parties is more than 10 times higher this year compared to the start of 2023, Sky News can reveal.

Spending on social media by Labour and the Conservatives is due to dramatically escalate through the course of the year due to spending and data rule changes which benefit the two main parties.

Maximum spending limits by the parties are due to raise by 80% while data rules are about to change which make it easier to use and target individuals with political advertising.

The two main parties are preparing to do battle on mobile phones at the next election by bombarding voters with targeted advertisements between now and polling day.

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Smaller parties have complained about the changes, with the Liberal Democrats suggesting the rules for the upcoming election have been tilted in the Conservatives’ favour as the party with the deepest pockets.

However so far this year our research suggests that Labour has been keeping pace with them, although no other party has managed a meaningful spend on Facebook or Instagram.

Spending has already increased dramatically. In the first five weeks of 2023, they spent just over £67,000 while in the same period this year, they spent just over £724,000.

Already this year, spending by Labour and Tories is matching the outlay in the last month before the general election.

Rishi Sunak during a Q&A with Joanna Swash, group CEO of Moneypenny, at the Welsh Conservatives Conference 2024.
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Pic:PA
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Pic: PA


The data was compiled by the Who Targets Me website which monitors the spending declared by Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company.

Facebook and Instagram allow personalised, targeted ads which will become a big campaign weapon.

Users over the age of 50 are likely to be seeing Tory adverts about the economy, or Labour messaging on knife crime.

Under 40s are likely to get advertisements offering WhatsApps “direct” from the prime minister, or messages about Labour cracking down on tax avoidance.

Keir Starmer during a visit to Siemens Traincare in Three Bridges, Crawley.
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Pic: PA

The two main parties dominate Facebook and Instagram spending: 52% has been spent on Conservative advertising, 45% on Labour, but just 1.6% by Lib Dems, 0.5% by the Greens and 0.2% by Reform.

Analysis of Tory spending in the early part of the campaign suggest they are not just targeting spending at seats which they need to hold to keep Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.

Sky News has looked at adverts pushed by local MPs and paid for by the Central Conservative Party over the last 90 days. This revealed they have spent over £500 in 74 different constituencies.

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Twenty one seats have what would normally be considered a solid Tory majority – of over 8,000. If you’re struggling to defend these seats, then you’re heading for a hung Parliament or Labour majority.

There are even seats with big spends that have Tory majorities of over 20,000.

Cash going into defending places that were – once – solidly blue.

Sam Jeffers, who runs Who Targets Me, said: “So there’s a new data bill, coming forward, and it’s quite close to being done.

“And it will change the emphasis, I think, of the way that political parties can do their campaigning.

“So there is a new thing in this bill allowing for Democratic engagement. And effectively, it sort of slightly loosens the rules, but they’ll be able to contact voters more easily.

“They’ll need less permission to do so. And so the probable result of that will be a lot more contact for political parties.”

Asked if voters should brace for a deluge of information through every platform and every meme this election, Jeffers said: “I think there could well be a lot more contact of voters this election. Yeah, there’s a lot more money. There’s a lot more data.

“You should expect to hear from political parties over the next year.”



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