Election 2020: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael spend most on Facebook advertising

Two parties spent over €31,000 each in past week, with Labour third, Sinn Féin fourth

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are by far the largest spenders on online political advertising in the past week, followed by the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, and Solidarity-People Before Profit, according to the latest figures from Facebook.

The two major parties spent €31,506 and €31,160 respectively on political advertisements on the social media platform in the week to February 3rd.

Labour spent €7,972 while Sinn Féin spent €4,180. Deputies Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry of Solidarity-People Before Profit spent €2,136 and €1,995 each, making for a total of €4,131. The Green Party spent €1,632.

Over the month to February 3rd, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil topped spending, at €57,592 and €56,388 respectively, followed by Sinn Féin (€14,520) and Labour (€9,056).


Political parties can use Facebook to target particular audiences, broken down not just by age, gender or location, but also through other micro-targeting options, according to media analyst Niamh Kird. Different target groups can then be shown particular ads or versions of ads.

The data released by Facebook does not allow for searches for the most viewed ads. The following are a few examples.

Party advertisements

An ad about the Fine Gael tax plan that features Leo Varadkar and went live on February 3rd, has been viewed between 600,000 and 700,000 times, according to the Facebook data. All demographics were included and exposure happened around the State, with 31 per cent of the views being in Dublin.

A Fianna Fáil ad that went live on February 3rd, saying that Fine Gael will go into government with Sinn Féin, has been seen by between 60,000 and 70,000 people, with a nationwide spread and views across all age groups.

A Labour Party ad that went live on February 4th features Brendan Howlin arguing that promising both tax cuts and significant increases in public spending is a "con job". It was seen by between 455,000 and 540,000 people, according to the Facebook data, was concentrated on people aged between 25 and 34, and had slightly more than half its audience in Dublin.

Sinn Féin tends to have a lot of variants of its advertisements. Most feature the party leader, Mary Lou McDonald on the Clare Byrne Live show referring to Micheál Martin having crashed the economy, and Leo Varadkar being so fiscally responsible he produced the most expensive hospital in the world.

Because of the number of variants, it is difficult to calculate how many times the ad has been viewed, but the audience appears to be mainly in the 25 to 34 age bracket.

An ad by Ruth Coppinger featuring Oscar-nominated film director Lenny Abrahamson has been seen by between 125,000 and 150,000 people, with 45 per cent being in the 25 to 34 age group.

The Green Party is running a range of candidate-specific ads, targeting their respective constituencies.

The Facebook data shows that in the week to February 3rd, a total of €52,922 was spent on political ads in Dublin, followed by €15,613 in Cork, and €9,445 in Galway. The lowest spend was in Co Leitrim, where campaigners spent €989.

The top spenders in Dublin over the past week were Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, Ruth Coppinger, and Sinn Féin.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent