Scottish elections: Labor spent £ 190,000 on election advertising, three times SNP spending

Scottish Labor has spent nearly £ 200,000 on social media ads in the run-up to the election, more than three times the SNP, new figures have revealed.

Figures obtained via Facebook’s ad library show Scottish Labor spent £ 93,780 promoting their own Facebook page through 402 ads, with an additional £ 94,029 for the Anas Sarwar page with 75 ads in the 90 days before May 6.

The messages included calls from Gordon Brown, video endorsements from party members and a repeated number of messages calling on the public to support Labor with their second vote.

They won 22 seats in the election, which equates to around £ 8,537 spent per seat won.

These figures have been called a “disaster” by Keith Brown of the SNP, who also announced the Scottish Conservatives’ “ultra-negative” campaign.

However, Scottish Labor said they were, for the first time, “digitally competitive” and “building a sophisticated operation” to become an alternative to the SNP.

The Tories spent the second highest of all parties on Facebook promotions – a total of £ 110,255 for 117 targeted ads.

With their 31 seats returned, that comes down to around £ 3,556 per seat.

Meanwhile, the SNP spent £ 54,334 on 98 ads on the official party page and just £ 4,965 on 12 posts on Nicola Sturgeon’s.

READ MORE: Alba Party spent £ 25,000 ‘in Mark Zuckerberg’s toilet’, election ad spending revealed

The relatively modest expenditure of the Nationalists, a total of £ 59,299, amounts to around £ 927 for each of the 64 seats won.

Keith Brown, SNP campaign manager, said: “These numbers are a hammer blow to the Conservatives and their ultra-negative campaign – they are also a big endorsement of the SNP’s digital communications strategy.

“Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross’s party blew up double the money the SNP invested in digital advertising and yet it won less than half the number of seats we got.

“The UK government will have spent a fortune on Twitter ads as well – but Scots are not dumb and are seeing through this whole Tory twist.

“It is also a disaster for Labor, their combined spending on Facebook is three times ours.

“The point is, the SNP’s digital campaign was way more compelling than the rest and no other party can match our huge organic share rate.”

The Alba party, whose leader Alex Salmond admitted early in the count that his party was unlikely to make a breakthrough, spent £ 25,218 on 28 promotions.

Internet political campaigning expert Dr Rhys Crilley, a member of the University of Glasgow’s Department of Politics and International Relations, said it was “not surprising that some parties have spent incredible sums of money. on Facebook ads to get their message out to voters. ”

He added: ‘The fact that the Labor Party has spent far more than any other party on Facebook ads has yet had its worst performance in Scottish Parliament history shows that throwing money into online advertising does not is not an effective strategy if your policies and your politicians do not. does not appeal to the Scottish public.

“The same can be said of Alba, who was convinced that because they were pro-independence they could take enough SNP list votes to get seats in Holyrood, but their social conservatism and their insignificant outlook independence have no appeal to voters.

“By spending £ 25,000 on Facebook ads and absolutely bombing in the polls, Alex Salmond has basically poured money to his followers down Mark Zuckerberg’s toilet.”

Dr Crilley said that with such a large membership base, the SNP “probably doesn’t have to depend as much on spending” as other parties.

He also pointed out that many SNP ads featured an endorsement from Line of Duty star Martin Compston – something that may work better “compared to other political ads that can often be quite boring.”


Elsewhere, the Scottish Greens spent £ 40,165 on 244 ads, while the Scottish Lib Dems paid £ 42,262 on 474 posts.

Commenting on the results, a Scottish Labor Party spokesperson said: ‘For the first time in recent political history, Scottish work is digitally competitive.

“We are building a sophisticated operation as part of our journey towards building the alternative to the SNP.”

A Scottish Tories spokesperson said: ‘The Scottish Tories have been running this campaign at the door, in the press and online.

“We shut down a majority of the SNP, as we had promised, and won our best result with 100,000 more votes compared to 2016. For the second consecutive election in Holyrood, we have 31 MPs and we won over votes than ever.

“We were the only pro-British party to improve our position and we have solidified our place as Scotland’s strongest and most important opposition party.”

And Chris McEleny, Alba’s campaign manager and senior adviser, said: “Alba’s strength lay in the thousands of members who joined the party to campaign for Scottish independence.

“It is not surprising that the Conservatives spent almost as much as all the separatist parties combined.

“Questions about the origin of this money have long been asked, as the independence movement thrives on the support of ordinary citizens across Scotland.

“Although social media is a medium that many people use, Scottish independence will be won by winning the hearts and minds of the Scottish people by mounting a campaign for independence, not by surpassing the rankings of Facebook spending. ”


Commenting on the Scottish Greens figures, a spokesperson said: “This election has seen the highest spending of any political party since decentralization began.

“The Scottish Greens don’t have rich corporate donors and instead rely on supporters and members, so it’s no surprise that our overall spending on advertising has been eclipsed by other parties.

“Despite this, the Scottish Greens increased our vote across Scotland and were the only opposition party to make gains in this election.”

And a spokesperson for the Scottish Lib Dems said: “We have used a variety of campaign techniques, leaflets, home conversations and online advertising.

“Our message has been delivered to people in our strongest areas and we have achieved record majorities.”

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