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AAP-led Punjab govt spent over 1.8 crores on Facebook ads with over 77% in Gujarat, here is what we found

Interestingly, most of the ads were not in Punjabi but in Hindi. In the video ads, the Chief Minister of Punjab extensively talked about the work that has been done by the Chief Minister of Delhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. OpIndia does not authenticate the claims made in the video ads about AAP’s work in Delhi.

Several netizens have raised questions about the money being spent by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Punjab government on Facebook ads that are running in Gujarat. Twitter user The Kejriwal Files said, “Debt-ridden Punjab govt. spent 1.74 crores on advertisements out of which ~1.4 crores were spent in Gujarat only (On a single Facebook page). Punjab govt. is spending crores on print media. i.e- ads on the front page for over a week PAN India.”

OpIndia’s investigation

We at OpIndia decided to check the information available in the public domain to see how far netizens’ allegations are true. It is Facebook’s policy to show details of the advertisements being run by a Facebook page. You can check the ads, how much money is spent, and the target audience among other parameters.

We picked three parameters to check the ads for the last 25 days running on Punjab Government’s official page targeting Gujarat in particular. Here is what we found.

Under the About tab of the Government of Punjab’s official Facebook page, there is a section called Page Transparency. Facebook enables this section on every page so that the users can see who is running the page, who the admins are (sometimes only the number of admins and their countries are visible) if the page is running ads and the topics of the ads. In this case, The Punjab Government’s page was running ads under category(s) social issues, elections or politics.

There is a sub-section Ad Library where users can see the details of the ads the page is running. The page started running ads on October 2. First, we checked how much the Government of Punjab has spent and where it was spent. Under the audience section in Ad Library, we changed the timeline to 90 days. By the time this report was published, a total of Rs 1,83,98,000 (One crore Eighty-Three Lakhs Ninty Eight Thousand) was spent by the Punjab Government only on Facebook ads. The page ran a total of 136 ads.

Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook

As per the information available, 77.8% of the money was spent on the target audience in Gujarat. Only 19.5% for Punjab, 1.5% for Maharashtra, 1.2% for Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, and so on. The page ran 66 ads targeting Gujarat, 41 for Punjab, 9 for Maharashtra, 20 for Rajasthan, 20 for Delhi, and so on.

Interestingly, most of the ads were not in Punjabi but in Hindi. In the video ads, the Chief Minister of Punjab extensively talked about the work that has been done by the Chief Minister of Delhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. OpIndia does not authenticate the claims made in the video ads about AAP’s work in Delhi.

Initially, there were no subtitles on the ads but then subtitles in Marathi started to appear. Even those ads were not in Punjabi but in Hindi. In all the ads, CM Mann talked about Delhi first and then either said similar work is being done in Punjab or would be done in Punjab. He added, “if honest governments are across the country, similar work is possible”. The maximum money spent on these ads was between Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000. These ads with Marathi subtitles were visible only to the people of Maharashtra.

Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook

Then came ads with Gujarati subtitles that started to run by the page. These ads were visible in Gujarat only.

One of the ads that ran from October 2 to October 23 targeted Rajasthan and other states. Even in this ad, only 1% to 6% of the target audience was from Delhi.

Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook

Another ad that ran through the same time period targeted Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh with only a 15% share of Delhi. Punjab was still missing from the target audience.

The target audience consistently remained around Rajasthan, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh with little share from Delhi. Notably, Rajasthan has assembly elections scheduled for 2023, Haryana for 2024, Himachal Pradesh for 2022, and Delhi has MCD elections most probably parallel to Gujarat Elections.

The average spent on these ads remained between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 with over one million impressions of all ads.

From October 5, the official page of the Punjab Government started running ads with descriptions in Gujarati. Initially, the money spent on these ads varied from Rs 100 to Rs 2,000 with one exception where Rs 90,000 to Rs 100,000 was spent.

Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook

On October 8, another ad targeting audience from Gujarat spent another Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 on a single ad.

From October 10 onwards, the money spent on every ad raised exponentially. On multiple ads/ad groups (examples here, here and here) that ran between October 10 to October 26 with Gujarati text and a target audience from Gujarat, over Rs 10 lakh were spent on the ads. On two ads in the same period, Rs 500,000 to Rs 600,000 were spent.

Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook
Source: Ad Library/Government of Punjab/Facebook

Since October 10, nine ads ran or still running by the page targeting the Punjab region. However, none of these ads had a budget of over Rs 800,000. These ads were made in the Punjabi language. Please note that these are the same ads that ran in Hindi. The statements by the people in the video were dubbed for these ads either in Hindi or Punjabi depending on what language they spoke and the target audience.

From October 13, ads with Gujarati text and Hindi voiceover started again. Currently, thirteen ads are running on the page. Out of these thirteen ads, six are targeting audience from Punjab while seven are targeting audiences from Gujarat. On two of the Gujarat ads (here and here), Rs 10 lakh each has already been spent.

Notably, the information available here is only about the amount the Punjab government has spent on Facebook with a target audience spread over several poll-bound states. Information on money spent on ads on other platforms like hoardings, local newspapers, national newspapers, TV channels, News channels, Google ads and more is available in bits and pieces.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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