Candidates and networks: Bašta goes on the offensive, Babiš avoids Prague

Presidential candidates also launched their campaigns in full swing on social media. Some target the elderly, while others avoid the population of Prague. Who is the ad targeting? She was watching Transparency International CR (TI) in collaboration with the Association for International Affairs (AMO). The agency has been focusing on candidate advertising on Meta’s social networks – namely Facebook and Instagram – since July 1.

As data from individual candidates’ websites shows, advertising on social networks is certainly not free. The three main favorites – Andrej Babiš (ANO), Danuše Nerudová and Petr Pavel – spent more than one million crowns on her. In contrast, Karel Divis, Jaroslav Basta (SPD) and Marek Hilzer paid low tens of thousands for advertising.

Babiš (ANO) and Pavel have spent a total of 2.3 million crowns on their promotion since the middle of last year, of which they paid one million in the last month. However, despite being the same size, their advertising campaign is significantly different – ​​it reaches a different audience.

“Petr Pavel’s ad is targeted to about 750,000 people for one million crowns. Whereas in Babiš, the ad is only shown to 292,000 people, which is almost three times less. It means that Babiš is trying to get the ad to someone who spends a lot of money. So it refers to the targeting group” says Ondřej Cakl, analyst of political campaigns in social networks at Transparency International, explaining the various marketing strategy for Seznam Zprávy.

For Babiš, an ad on Facebook or Instagram costs an average of 12,000 crowns, while Petr Pavel will pay 3,000 crowns for it.

Overall, Petr Pavel shared the highest number of ads, with his page posting 738 ads, followed by Tomáš Zima with 501 ads and Danuší Nerudová with 419 ads. Most candidates “recycle” their ads and submit multiple times.

According to Cockle, the former prime minister’s expensive advertising was due to the high demands placed on it. The more difficult it is to show an ad to a given user, the more Facebook charges. “Perhaps it’s too expensive to advertise to people who aren’t popular,” says the expert.

“If there’s a profile on Facebook that Babis doesn’t like and doesn’t want to see his ad, the candidate has to pay more to get the ad shown because Facebook doesn’t want to discourage its users by showing them ads they don’t like,” says Cockle.

According to the analyst, Babis is targeting hard-to-reach voters with his advertising on social networks. However, it is no longer possible to study from the data of the meta ad library which criteria make it difficult to target ads – whether it is age groups that are not represented in social networks or because of specific electoral preferences.

Andrej Babis can achieve very precise targeting due to the large number of followers on his profile. He has 340 thousand followers on Facebook alone. By contrast, 76,000 people follow Petr Pavel – so the retired general needs to spread his ad to a larger number of people.

Raising the fort

“Bašta has a bigger target group at the moment. Although he paid very little and didn’t enter any ads from his profile until last week, he now jumps out at us as an advertiser with a bigger audience than Peter Pavel. “Bašta has 770,000 potential ad recipients, while it now started to advertise,” notes Ondřej Cakl.

Currently, 4 to 5 ads are published simultaneously on the profile of Jaroslav Bašta – SPD, and the larger number of recipients the candidate tries to reach as many people as possible with his marketing.

“I think it’s a reaction to what’s happening in the public space. Most of the ads follow the content of the message that wants to dismiss the government, which has resonated in the public space. We believe that this has caught the marketing and they can get more attention,” explains the analyst.

The primary voters of Diviš are the elders of Bašt

Data from Transparency International and AMO also show which presidential candidates are targeting younger voters and, conversely, older ones. Candidate Petr Pavel focused more on young people between the ages of 25 and 34 – 37 percent of his ads on Meta’s social networks were viewed by this age group. Karel Divis, on the other hand, appealed to first-time voters: nearly 40 percent of his ad was shown to 18- to 24-year-olds.

In contrast, the older generation is more interested in Jaroslav Bašta (SPD), who targets 65 percent of his ads to the over-45s. Almost every fifth advertisement by Pavel Fischer and Marko Hilšer reached seniors.

Babis didn’t like Prague

The Facebook and Instagram ad library also allows you to track which segments the ad is targeting. The differences are obvious at first glance – the Karlovy Vary, Liberec, Slin and Partubis regions are targeted by far fewer candidates.

“The basic aspect is that if the candidates forget a region, they will not believe in the fact that the effectiveness of the ad will translate into the election result,” Ondřej Cakl justifies the small number of ads in small regions.

Most of the ads target candidates to voters in big cities and regions – namely Prague, Moravian-Silesian and South Moravian regions. “I think candidates are primarily guided by the potential impact of advertising on which region will give them the most electoral success,” says the analyst.

However, the city is not at the center of interest of all candidates, with Tomáš Zima and Andrej Babiš only running less than 8 percent of their ads. “For Andrzej Babis, there is no need to convince the voters in Prague to vote for him. His personality is known and followed. He aims at the areas where he feels the greatest potential to win new voters, and even if he convinces them, it will bring him some votes,” explains Cagle.

All data displayed is from Meta’s ad library from July 1, 2022 to January 10, 2023. Facebook and Instagram data records the ad shown by the user, so it is not a completely accurate reflection of the candidate’s input. This may change when advertising is served based on Meta’s social network algorithms.

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