The AdLens report on political ads on Facebook, February 2021

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This data is taken from the Facebook political ad library. Ads costing less than €100 were counted at an average of €50. In this report, you will find data from 1 to 28 February 2021. All data is collected and archived by us, please contact us for more info: adlens.be@gmail.com

Analysis of Belgian political parties’ advertising

In the graph below, the total amounts invested per party are listed in descending order. Party pages in blue, political personality pages in orange, local pages (e.g. Vlaams Belang Brussel) or party sub-pages (e.g. Redfox) are in yellow.

N-VA

191 726€ (+28 678 € compared to January 2021)

Vlaams Belang

119 521 € (-6 002 € compared to January 2021)

PVDA

48 130 € (-10 127 € compared to January 2021, including COMAC and Redfox België)

Groen

35 157 € (+17 681€ compared to January 2021)

Open Vld

21 865 € (+ 4 509 compared to January 2021)

sp.a

21 225 € (+4 629 € compared to January 2021)

CD&V

14 396 € (-843 € compared to January 2021)

MR

11 739 € (-3 637 € compared to January 2021)

CDH

8 444 € (+ 1 729 € compared to January 2021)

PTB

7 995 € (- 15 212 € compared to January 2021, including COMAC, Redfox Belgique)

Ecolo

1 968 € ( + 505 € compared to January 2021)

Défi

1 019 € (- 363 € compared to January 2021)

PS

885 € (-720 € compared to January 2021)

ProDG

304 €

Conclusion: PVDA and PTB decrease significantly, but PVDA still remains in third position. The order of parties spending the most remains mostly unchanged. Groen increases quite significantly. The MR, the French-speaking party that invests the most, decreases its expenditure.

Analysis of the most highlighted political figures

Bart De Wever (N-VA) is well ahead. Unsurprisingly followed by the chairman of Vlaams Belang, Tom Van Grieken. Conner Rousseau represents more than 80% of the budget invested by the sp.a. Petra De Sutter (Groen) is in the top 5 without leading a party. And Georges Louis-Bouchez is the only French speaker in the top 10.

Individual ads most spent

Using the daily reports of the Facebook Library, we estimated how much was spent on individual ads. Even if the following ads were launched long before February, they received estimated spending of (from left to right): €12,000, €10,000 and €10,000 in February 2021. All three are “page like” ads from N-VA, two on the Facebook page of Bart de Wever, one on the N-VA page.

Analysis of political advertisements in European countries

In February, €662,273 (+€95,726 compared to January) was spent on political ads on Facebook in Belgium. Belgium is the eighth European country to spend the most on Facebook. Note that by political, Facebook means ads for candidates for public office, as well as ads about an election, a voting initiative or a social issue. NGOs and some media can therefore be counted as political.
In yellow, countries outside the EU.

In the table below, the total budget is calculated per capita (total spent/1000 inhabitants). Belgium is in fourth place just behind the Netherlands. Note that the Netherlands is in an election period, with elections taking place from 15 to 17 March 2021.

Moreover, these figures are probably to be put into perspective, as in Belgium the proportion of really political ads is very high. As shown in these graphs, even though the Netherlands was in an election period, the proportion of genuinely political ads in Belgium among the ads considered by FB as belonging to the political category is much higher.

AdLens is a team of activists, journalists, researchers, data analysts. We work together for more transparency of political ads on Facebook.