Political advertising, mainly designed by political campaign staff and consultants is a form of campaigning that allows political candidates to directly convey their message via media platforms to influence debates and ultimately voters.
In times past, the major drivers for political ads included newspapers, radio, billboards, and television. However, the transmission medium has taken a new and boldface look, rendering traditional media platforms redundant. In recent times, political campaigns on social media are gradually taking over.
Political Campaigns on social media
Social media has become the transmission medium that has taken the new and boldface look of political advertisement. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have provided a massive platform, with maximum but focused outreach to audiences for political candidates. By advertising on various types of social media platforms, political candidates can reach audiences that otherwise may not have been paying attention to the election and build recognition, highlight their agendas, and point out the shortcomings of their opponents. Barack Obama, who became the first black president of the United States of America was credited as being one of the first candidates to use social media advertising in his campaign.
In that year, political candidates were said to have spent a total of US$22.25 million on online political ads and in 2016, US$1.4 billion was spent on online ads.
Political campaign on social media – spending in Ghana
The landscape in Ghana has been no different. In a news item monitored by Ghana Talks Business, it was revealed that between August and December of this year, political parties spent over GH¢1.3 million on a total of 3,989 Facebook political ads.
Greater Accra region received the highest spending of US$121,932 for the period, while the Ashanti Region, the stronghold of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) witnessed a US$61,440 spending on Facebook political ads.
In terms of individual candidates, John Dramani Mahama took the lead with $65,120 worth of adverts, followed by Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo with a spending of $53,598 during the period in question.
According to Maximus Amertogoh, a digital marketing strategist, though the spending is significant, he is expecting a 200% increase in the next election season.
“Next election cycle I expect an increase of over 200 percent in ad spend. Because you can see the reflection and impact of the ads on the ground. If you have a page like Mahama 2020 spending about $65,000 with majority of that amount being spent in Greater Accra Region and the turn out of the elections, you will expect other players to take note in the next election cycle,” he said.