BJP tops political ad spending on Google platforms

A BJP supporter during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rally for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata,Wednesday, April 3, 2019.Photo/Swapan Mahapatra) (
Political parties in India spent over Rs 3.76 crore on 831 election ads on Google platforms between February 19 and April 3, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leading the table with the expenditure of Rs 1.21 crore for 554 ads, the Google India Transparency Report revealed on Thursday.

The YSR Congress Party, led by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, follows the BJP with spending of over Rs 1.04 crore for 107 ads during the period.

However, Rs 1.48 crore has been spent on promoting the Telugu Desam Party, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. While Pramanya Strategy Consulting spent Rs 85.25 lakh on promoting Naidu and his party, Digital Consulting Pvt Ltd. spent Rs 63.43 lakh on pro-TDP ads.

Surprisingly, the Congress has spent just Rs 54,100 for 14 ads on the Google platforms, including YouTube.

Google considers election ads as those that feature a political party, a political candidate or member of the Lok Sabha, or promotions run by a political party, political candidate, or a member of the Lok Sabha.

For Google, election advertisements do not include ads run by non-political entities promoting political merchandise like T-shirts, or by news organisations to promote their coverage of political parties, Lok Sabha election campaigns, candidates, or Lok Sabha members.

According to the report, the maximum money on election ads has been spent in Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1.73 crore), followed by Telangana (Rs 72 lakh), UP (Rs 18 lakh) and Maharashtra (Rs 17 lakh) for the period.

Google enforced its election ads policy for India in February, which requires advertisers to provide a certificate issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI), or anyone authorised by it, for each ad they wish to run.

An advertiser must first be verified by Google before submitting this pre-certificate for advertisement.

Google said it introduced an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library as part of efforts to bring transparency to poll promotions.

"In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast vote to elect the next government. We're thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world," Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director-Public Policy, Google India, had said in a blog post.

The BJP has also become the top political ad spender on Facebook. Of the Rs 10 crore spent on political advertising on Facebook till last month, the BJP and its affiliates had spent over Rs 5 crore, which is 50 per cent of the total.
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