In the lead-up for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, advertising on Facebook has been under scrutiny. This is particularly true for political advertising on the platform, done either by political parties themselves or by Facebook Pages that may be affiliated or support any political party. The idea was to give Facebook users a clear picture of who is placing the advertisement that they are seeing, for the sake of transparency. And it seems to be working. The new Political Ads Policy was in place starting 21 February, which means we now have the advertising data compiled for a complete month, in the lead-up to perhaps the most tightly contested general elections in India in years. And the Facebook advertising data tells its own tale.
Till March 23, advertising on Facebook was heavily dominated by pro-BJP advertisers, a quick glance at the Ad Library Report for India suggests. An advertiser with the name Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat spent Rs 11,562,550 on putting out 2,498 adverts on Facebook during the month. The same advertiser also spent Rs 10,831,546 on 1,227 adverts, which ran without a disclaimer. A glance at the Top 10 advertisers on Facebook for the month are dominated by BJP supporters, with only the Daily Hunt app being a notable exception—they spent Rs 2,517,810 for 15 adverts on the platform. These ran without a disclaimer, Facebook says. Important to note that a lot of Daily Hunt’s advertising was also news related, which means a political angle remained in play.
The new Political Ads Policy demands that political adverts on Facebook will be accompanied with "Published by" or "Paid for by" disclaimers about who placed the advert. Facebook users will have a better idea of who placed the ad on the platform, which they are seeing on their timeline. Facebook had confirmed that any adverts running without a disclaimer will be removed from the Newsfeed and instead placed in the searchable Ad Library.
The Facebook Ad Library Report for India is a part of a larger package that also includes a searchable Ad Library. Here, you will be able to search for and see all the adverts placed by an advertiser on the platform, for a period of 7 years from the date of publishing. The data will include something known as Ad Performance, which will include all the data such as impressions, the money spent on promoting the particular advert and demographics of Facebook users the ad reached out to.