National

Tamil Nadu parties have deep pockets for online campaigns

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on March 25, 2021

Tamil Nadu is the highest spender on online political advertising in India as the two major Dravidian parties are increasingly splurging on digital campaigns to catch the eyeballs of electorates in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

Data from Google transparency report, which covers political advertising on Google and YouTube partner properties, show that political parties and affiliated groups have spent ₹46.61 crore, totaling 19,071 ads, across Google platform between February 19, 2019 and March 25, 2021.

Tamil Nadu contributes the highest share at ₹12.52 crore or 27 per cent of the total ad spends in Google. Other poll-bound States such as West Bengal, Kerala and Assam spent ₹2.85 crore, ₹36 lakh and ₹17 lakh, respectively.

 

“Internet penetration and per capita mobile phone usage in Tamil Nadu are very high compared to other States,” said political analyst Sumanth Raman, adding: “Almost 75-80 per cent people in Tamil Nadu usesmartphones. So, it makes sense for political parties to reach out to people through YouTube and social media platforms.”

Among political parties, BJP is the highest spender on Google platform at ₹16.18 crore for 10,966 ads. While a major portion of BJP’s total ad spends were for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, its recent spends are focussed on YouTube ad campaigns for the West Bengal Assembly elections.

DMK is the second highest spender on Google ads. Interestingly, the Opposition party spent ₹10.43 crore on just 940 ads, with majority of the spending focussed on YouTube ad campaigns for the State Assembly elections. The ruling AIADMK and Crayons Advertising (which has created a series of video campaigns for the AIADMK) together spent ₹1.84 crore, totaling 315 ads. Brandsum Tech solutions and Indian PAC Consulting spent ₹1.31 crore on 448 ads for Trinamool Congress. To be sure, only ad spend exceeding ₹10 lakh is considered and spends by political organisations from non-poll regions are eliminated.

Format of the ads

Political commentator Badri Seshadri says besides the number of ads, the format of the ads has also improved.

“Political ads have become far more sophisticated. Both DMK and AIADMK have really upped their notch in terms of storytelling of their respective positions,” said Seshadri, adding: “In the next elections probably even 50 per cent might be spent on social media campaigns. However, the flip side about online campaigns is that there is a lot of fake propaganda that also gets mixed up and sadly it is not accidental but organised.”

Facebook saw a total ad spend of ₹13.77 crore on its platform across all States in the last 90 days – between December 24, 2020 and March 23, 2021. West Bengal led the charge with ₹3.82 crore followed by Tamil Nadu at ₹3.42 crore. Poll-bound Assam and Kerala spent ₹65 lakh and ₹41 lakh during this period.

Among the top 10 advertisers (based on value), Facebook pages such as ‘Ondrinaivom Vaa’, ‘DMK’ and ‘MK Stalin’ collectively spent ₹1.84 crore while I-PAC spent ₹1.78 crore on ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’ page during the 90-day period. Facebook pages ‘BJP West Bengal’, ‘Amar Poribar BJP Poribar’, and ‘Aar Noi Annay’ collectively spent around ₹60 lakh during the period.

“While social media campaigns may not have any impact on committed voters like party cadres or those who traditionally vote for a particular party for decades, it might influence the choices of first-time voters, youngsters and fence-sitters,” said political analyst Raman.

Published on March 25, 2021

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