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Parties’ voter targeting strategies: What can facebook ads tell us?


Stückelberger, Simon; Koedam, Jelle (2022). Parties’ voter targeting strategies: What can facebook ads tell us? Electoral Studies, 77:1-13.

Abstract

Digital political advertising on social media is an integral part of modern election campaigns. It gives political parties a powerful new tool to target voters, but which voters do they pursue? Tapping into an ongoing debate about party strategy, we examine whether parties seek to maintain their existing demographic and regional strongholds, or whether they aim to expand their voter coalitions. While the (intended) audience of other campaign activities is often unknown, data from the Facebook ads archive provide information on their recipients’ gender, age, and subnational region. Our analysis across five countries, which further brings in recent survey and electoral data, suggests that coalition maintenance is the dominant party strategy for demographic groups. Parties that receive more support from a given gender or age group run ads that reach more members of that demographic group. Consistent with the literature that shows a gender and age gap in voting, left-wing parties are more likely to advertise to women than right-wing parties, and green parties disproportionately reach younger voters. The results for geographic groups are mixed. We do find that parties in majoritarian electoral systems pursue a narrower regional audience than their counterparts in proportional systems. This study is one of the first to explore the potential and limitations of Facebook ad audience data to speak to a targeting literature in need of more comparative research on multiparty systems.

Abstract

Digital political advertising on social media is an integral part of modern election campaigns. It gives political parties a powerful new tool to target voters, but which voters do they pursue? Tapping into an ongoing debate about party strategy, we examine whether parties seek to maintain their existing demographic and regional strongholds, or whether they aim to expand their voter coalitions. While the (intended) audience of other campaign activities is often unknown, data from the Facebook ads archive provide information on their recipients’ gender, age, and subnational region. Our analysis across five countries, which further brings in recent survey and electoral data, suggests that coalition maintenance is the dominant party strategy for demographic groups. Parties that receive more support from a given gender or age group run ads that reach more members of that demographic group. Consistent with the literature that shows a gender and age gap in voting, left-wing parties are more likely to advertise to women than right-wing parties, and green parties disproportionately reach younger voters. The results for geographic groups are mixed. We do find that parties in majoritarian electoral systems pursue a narrower regional audience than their counterparts in proportional systems. This study is one of the first to explore the potential and limitations of Facebook ad audience data to speak to a targeting literature in need of more comparative research on multiparty systems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:Election campaigns, Targeting, Microtargeting, Digital political advertising, Age groups, Gender
Language:English
Date:11 May 2022
Deposited On:08 Feb 2023 08:59
Last Modified:29 Mar 2024 02:40
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0261-3794
Additional Information:UZH hat Onlinezugang zu dem Journal.
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2022.102473
Official URL:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379422000336