As more political parties turn to digital campaigning on Facebook in the midst of the ongoing elections, the top spending pages linked to the BJP are now spending meagre amounts to stay under the radar.
Last week’s ad report by Facebook revealed that while BJP’s official page remains the top spender of the week, pages run by BJP’s in-house shadowy consultancy firm the Association of Billion Minds have started sponsoring ads again followings two weeks of hiatus.
Until a few weeks ago, pages like ‘Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat’, ‘Nation With NaMo’, ‘Modi11’ and ‘My First Vote For Modi’ – all run by ABM – were consistently at the top of the list of the weekly ad reports in terms of expenditure, and still remains the top spenders on Facebook since February, 2019, till date.
However, unlike past weekly expenditures running well beyond Rs. 50 lakh, a relatively meagre amount of less than Rs. 2 lakh was pumped into Facebook political marketing by ABM.
My First Vote For Modi, which has already spent more than Rs. 1 crore since March on Facebook political ads, made an expenditure of under Rs. 2 lakh last week.
Nation With NaMo, which stands as the second highest spender with an overall expenditure of more than Rs. 1.2 crore, spent a mere Rs. 6,689 last week, suggesting a serious drop in overall spending by the pages run by ABM.
Why the sudden change?
On April 4, 2019, Huffington Post published an intensive investigative article on the opaque history behind the creation of ABM and its current under-the-radar operations on social media.
The article suddenly pushed the BJP affiliated consultancy firm into the spotlight, which was swiftly followed by a total curb in expenditure by all the ABM pages for two weeks in a row.
BJP still at top, while others scramble
However, pro-BJP pages still dominate the platform in terms of expenditure on political ads with an overall spending of over Rs. 55 lakh last week
While ABM pages took a backstage on Facebook political marketing, BJP’s official page rose to the occasion and took over the spot with a spending of Rs. 44 lakh.
Apart from the BJP, the other major spenders were affiliated to INC, LDF, BJD, MNM, BSP and DMK – with all of these parties going to polls last week.
As compared to BJP’s persistent and month-long efforts at wooing social media users, the other major parties have made a last minute attempt at reaching out to the people through Facebook.
Archis is a fact-checker and reporter at BOOM. He has previously worked as a journalist for broadsheet newspapers and in communications for a social start-up incubator. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris and a Master's in Media and Political Communication from the University of Amsterdam.