Political parties have spent over Rs 53 crore on digital platforms like Google and Facebook since February 19 during the ongoing Lok Sabha campaign till May 17. BJP is the top spender on Google and Facebook advertisement, followed by DMK. According to Facebook's Ad Library Report, there were 1.21 lakh political ads with a total spending of more than Rs 26.5 crore between February and May 17 this year. Similarly, ad spend on Google, YouTube, and partner properties since February 19 stood at Rs 27.36 crore with 14,837 ads. The voting for the last and final phase was completed on Sunday. In terms of geographies, according to the report, the maximum money on election ads has been spent in Andhra Pradesh (Rs 5.23 crore), followed by Tamil Nadu ( Rs 4. 43 crore) Telangana ( Rs 2.03 crore) and Delhi ( Rs 2.81 crore) for the period.
BJP spent over Rs 17.10 crore on 12,002 advertisements on Google plateform and Rs 4.23 crore on over 2,500 ads on Facebook. The BJP spent on campaigning a combination of video, print and digital ads on supporting pages pages like 'My First Vote for Modi', 'Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat' and 'Nation with NaMo' too, 'Main Bhi Chowkidar', Bhrastachar Mitane ke liye, Naya Bharat Banane ke liye, Vishwa mein Samarth dikhane ke liye Desh ka maan badane ke liye and Atankwad ko harane ke liye surakshit rashtra banane ke liye and , infused over Rs 4 crore on ads on the social networking platform that has well over 200 million users in India. On Google's platforms, it has spent more than Rs 17 crore. The DMK, which is second in spending on digital plateform with the expenditure of Rs 4.10 crore on 266 advertisements.
The Congress spent Rs 1.46 crore on Facebook for 3,686 ads. It shelled out another Rs 2.71 crore on Google's platforms with 425 ads. while YSR Congress Party of Rs 2.31 crore. Meanwhile, Congress has been highlighting the promises made by its PM candidate Rahul Gandhi through multiple digital advertisements. The pro-Congress page "Bande Mein Hai Dum" spent Rs 2.59 lakh for drumming up support for the grand old party on Facebook and the Indian Youth Congress spent Rs 6.52 lakh on the social media platform.
As per Facebook's data, Trinamool Congress has spent Rs 29.28 lakhs. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) shelled out Rs 13.62 lakh for 176 ads on the Facebook page. Interestingly, Google's political ad dashboard showed that Auburn Digital Solutions was running AAP campaigns and had spent Rs 2.18 crore from February 19 onwards.
Google enforced its election ads policy for India in February, which requires advertisers to provide a certificate issued by the Election Commission ( EC), or anyone authorised by it, for each ad they wish to run. An advertiser must first be verified by Google before submitting this pre-certificate for advertisement.
Amid increased political advertising on social media platforms, the Election Commission (EC) has given directions for close tracking of expenditure by political parties and candidates on these platforms during elections. In a communication to chief electoral officers of all states and Union Territories on April 18, EC said "ad transparency reports" from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, among others, should be closely studied. The poll panel has conveyed to all states that parties' payments for social media campaigns should be tracked and assessed. It must also be ensured that these reflect correctly in the accounts of parties and candidates.