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Change UK spends most on Facebook adverts ahead of EU elections

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By Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondent

Change UK's failure in the European elections was not only embarrassing, but also expensive, as the party spent over £200,000 on Facebook advertising in the lead-up to the vote, Sky News can reveal.

Figures released by Facebook show that Change UK spent £214,165 promoting its candidates on Facebook and Instagram, including £130,351 in the week before polling day.

The targeted messages urged voters to "Vote Change UK" and help us fight for a "People's Vote" and for "Remain".

They also told social media users to "join thousands of people in your area who are voting to change politics".

Despite fielding several celebrity candidates, including broadcaster Gavin Esler and media personality Rachel Johnson, Change UK received only 3.4% of the final vote.

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Image: Heidi Allen and Chuka Umunna are two of the leading figures in Change UK

Change UK's total of 571,846 votes means that it spent 37 pence per voter on Facebook, a platform traditionally believed to be a cheaper alternative to traditional marketing methods.

Political parties were not the only ones spending big on Facebook for the European Parliament elections, with campaign groups such as Best for Britain and the People's Vote also pushing their message.

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According to analysis by non-profit Who Targets Me?, on the day of the vote itself Remain-supporting parties and campaign groups spent £168,013 on Facebook advertising, whereas Leave-supporting parties and campaign groups spent only £11,272.

"Based on our classification of who supports what, there was a nearly 15-fold difference between Leave and Remain," said Sam Jeffers, co-founder of Who Targets Me?, who saw a similar difference in terms of activity.

"The Lib Dems ran almost as many ads as the Tories spent in pounds."

Change UK spent the most on Facebook spend in the week leading up to polling day
Image: Change UK spent the most on Facebook advertising in the week leading up to polling day

Of the Remain-supporting groups active on Facebook in the lead-up to the European elections, among the biggest spenders were the Liberal Democrats.

In the last seven days before the poll it spent £110,749 promoting its party's page on Facebook and Instagram.

The breakaway group of Remain MPs spent more than its rivals
Image: The breakaway group of Remain MPs spent more than its rivals in the month before the vote

Unlike Change UK, which focused on promoting several hundred ads, the Lib Dems produced thousands of variations of its ads, targeted at different areas and demographics.

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One particular focus for the Liberal Democrats was Labour Remainers: to target them, the party created a separate page called Exit from Brexit, which it used to claim that "Jeremy Corbyn has turned Labour into a Brexit party".

In the week leading up to the election, the Liberal Democrats spent £19,088 promoting this page, primarily on Instagram.

By comparison, Read More – Source

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