Scottish Government is second-biggest UK spender on Facebook adverts, study finds

Written by Ruaraidh Gilmour on 29 July 2022 in News
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Report from specialist Sortlist reveals rundown of organisations that are biggest advertising clients of Meta

Credit: Robert Cheaib/Pixabay

The Scottish Government ranks second on the list of UK organisations’ spending on advertising with Facebook-owner Meta, according to a report.

The study from Sortlist, a firm which runs a database of marketing and advertising experts, found that Meta received under £2.5m from the Scottish Government between November 2018 and April 2022 for around 2,500 adverts. Only the WWF UK spent more in the same period, at £4.1m.

Using the Meta Ad Library Report, Sortlist found that the Scottish Government’s adverts were “targeting topics like mental health, poverty, and young people”.

Government and political organisations were found to be the second highest paying sector in the UK for Meta advertising.  

Findings show that over £15m was paid to the technology company in three-and-a-half-years by the UK political sector. The biggest spenders include the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and the Labour Party.


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The Scottish Government makes up around 16% of the overall spending of all governments and political organisations in the UK. Labour also spent heavily in this time, paying around £1.5m.  

Although charities spent over £3.5m more than the political sector, they only put out around 45,000 adverts, compared to the UK political sector's 115,027. 

In fact, government and political organisations had more displayed adverts than the rest of the top ten UK spenders combined.

In 2019, Facebook made $69.7bn from worldwide advertisement across Facebook, Messenger, Facebook Watch, and Facebook Portal.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Effective communication is an essential component of government work. Communications activity is needed to explain policy and provide information to the public about the government and its services. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic this has included communicating vital public health messages, including work to drive vaccination and ensure people receive healthcare in the correct setting.

“We use the services of an external media buying agency to research, plan and purchase advertising space across all media platforms. Marketing spend, including advertising via Meta, during the pandemic is higher than previous year’s due to the need for significant investment to provide life-saving COVID-19 public health information which has supported the people of Scotland, businesses and organisations during the pandemic.

“We are committed to openness and transparency and publish details of our marketing spend annually on gov.scot.”

 

About the author

Ruaraidh Gilmour is a reporter at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @Ruaraidh0.

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