$12.5m Spent on Social Media Election Ads, Misinformation Widespread: Research & Exit-Poll

New research reveals political parties spent at least $12.5m on Facebook and Instagram advertising in the final 2 months of the 2022 election, with Labor and the Greens successfully engaging women voters to a far higher degree than the Coalition.

Exit-polling released in conjunction with the report also reveals 73% of voters reported seeing misleading political ads during the campaign, adding momentum for truth in political advertising laws. 86% of voters support truth laws being in place before the next election.

Key Points from Report:

  • A total of $12.5 million was spent to run 26,945 political ads on Facebook and Instagram by parties and candidates over the two months leading up to May 21
  • Labor and the Greens had substantially more engagement with women online, while the Coalition had a 50/50 gender split
  • ALP spent the most, at least of $5 million in final two months, 62% higher than the Liberal Party which came in second at $3 million.
  • The total ad spend by the Coalition was $3.5m or 28% of the total spending on political ads
  • The seat of Kooyong saw the highest ad spend of any division, with candidates spending $339,450 on social media ads

Key points from Exit polls: Misinformation

  • 73% of voters said they came across political ads that they knew to be misleading, only 5% said they did not. 22% “weren’t sure”.
  • Of those 73%, 43% said they saw a misleading ad “once a day or more often”, 22% said once a week, 8% once a month.
  • 86% of voters agree that truth in political advertising laws should be in place before the next election, only 4% disagree

“This substantial report is a valuable resource for those wanting to track the spending, engagement and effectiveness of social media advertising in influencing election outcomes,” said Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of the Australia Institute.

“Our research shows women voters engaged substantially more with Labor and Greens messages, while the Coalition had a 50/50 gender split.

“Disturbingly, misinformation and disinformation were widespread during the election with 73% of voters reporting exposure to misleading political advertising, and 43% of those saying they saw this “once a day or more often.”

“This research underscores the need for ‘truth in political advertising’ laws.

“It’s perfectly legal to lie in a political ad in Australia and it shouldn’t be. Our research shows 86% of voters want this legislated before the next election.

“The new parliament has an opportunity to improve democratic integrity by supporting the reforms flagged by Independent MP Zali Steggall, based on the SA model laws.”

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