Political Facebook ads in Europe

Since March 2019, Facebook keeps records of political advertisements in the Ad Library. Until now, with AdLens we have focused on individual countries (our reports from Belgium) or elections (the Dutch elections in 2021). In this report, we are able to present you a top 100 of Facebook pages who invested in political ads in 2021, per country, on a European scale, ranked by absolute spending.

Key insights:

  • The overall top 100 includes pages from 11 different countries. AdLens is recording data of 33 European countries. Our data is the result of monthly exports of the Ad Library report, for every individual European country, starting in january 2021. Our latest full download includes the data until July 30th. The only country without a full monthly dataset is Portugal (only January, June & July). Countries included with full monthly dataset are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Lithuania, Moldavia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. Specific data can be requested by journalists and scientists.
  • Top 5 Facebook pages ranked by Facebook ad spend on political ads, January-July 2021, in absolute numbers and per category (continue reading below the chart)

Top 5 Facebook pages ranked by Facebook ad spend on political ads, January-July 2021, in relative numbers (€ per 1000 inhabitants) and per category. (continue reading below chart)

In order to better interpret our data, the AdLens team tagged manually every page in the top 100 with the markers “political actor” (POL), “media” (MED), “trade union” (SYN), “government organisation” (GOV), companies & businesses (COM) and the ensemble of NGO’s, charity foundations, … (NGO). Categorisation is based on a page’s description.

  • The last category (NGO) is the biggest with 49 Facebook pages. AdLens found 22 companies, 14 political actors, 14 government organisations, 2 media companies and 1 trade union.
  • In the COM category (22 pages), we identify 8 energy companies, 3 Facebook pages and 3 Amazon pages. In the GOV category (14), we notice the German and Dutch Health departments and ministeries. Their use of Facebook ads is explained by the COVID19 pandemic. Also the European Commission and Parliament make large use of Facebook ads, as do the German, Scottish, UK, Hungarian and Polish governments.
  • In the overall top 100 (january-july) ranked by absolute spending, we notice 14 political parties or political figures. Highest representation is from the Netherlands (6 political actors) and Belgium (4). United Kingdom (2), Spain (1) and Germany (1) are also present. The Netherlands had elections in March, explaining the higher spending in Facebook ads. The political actors present in the overall top 100 are the parties CDA, Forum voor Democratie, VVD, D66, and SP. Wopke Hoekstra, CDA candidate, is also present. Also the Belgian political parties are very present. NVA, Vlaams Belang and PVDA are top spenders on their Facebook pages in Europe. MP Bart de Wever, leader of the NVA party and Mayor of Antwerp, is Europe’s biggest individual spender on Facebook political ads with €225.411 in 7 months. In the UK, the London department of Labour and the Scottish Conservatives, are the top spenders. In Spain, Podemos and in Germany Die Linke. Upcoming lections in Germany are expected to influence this chart in the near future.

Political ads: our collective makes use of the Facebook Ad Library. Thus, only the ads that Facebook itself marks as political, are taken into consideration. These ads run both on Facebook and Instagram.

As the scope of AdLens is to bring more transparency, journalists and researchers can request further data by contacting us.

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