Political ads spilled over to Snap, Spotify during Lok Sabha elections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Political ads spilled over to Snap, Spotify during Lok Sabha elections

Jun 08, 2024 04:19 AM IST

Snap, which has 200 million monthly active users in India, has a relatively younger base compared to Facebook, Twitter/X and YouTube.

In the 90-day period between March 6 and June 3 this year, the official page of the Bharatiya Janata Party spent at least 19.38 crore on Meta platforms (Facebook and Instagram) while the Congress spent at least 10.88 crore. On Google, including YouTube, the BJP spent at least 85.8 crore (in this period?) while the Congress spent at least 45.4 crore.

Spotify has about 55 million MAU according to Comscore. (AFP)
Spotify has about 55 million MAU according to Comscore. (AFP)

But two other platforms -- Snap and Spotify -- saw political ads too, with parties using them for specific audiences.

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Snap, which has 200 million monthly active users (MAU) in India, has a relatively younger user base compared to legacy social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter/X and YouTube. Spotify has about 55 million MAU according to Comscore.

Snap sees ads from BJP worth 19.9 lakh in 2024

The BJP spent 19,90,097 on six ads that generated a total of about 21 million impressions on Snap, according to the platform’s Political Ads Library. All six ads, aimed at Snap’s comparatively younger user base in India, carried the tag line “Mera Pehla Vote Modi Ko” and were run between March 15 and March 28. The same page, called My First Vote For Modi on Facebook and Instagram, spent 8,58,763 between March 6 and June 3 on 836 ads on Meta platforms.

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One of the six BJP advertisements on Snap stressed on the increase in sports budget between 2014 and 2024, another talked about the establishment of new universities, IITs and IIMs under the BJP government, while a third ad talked about India’s foreign policy and its attempts to become a “vishwaguru” – all clearly aimed at the first time voter.

The BJP spent 4,22,709 on five ads that were run between May 28, 2023 and June 3, 2023, all them were targeted at Telangana. Assembly elections happened in Telangana on November 30, 2023.

Congress did not run a single ad on Snap in 2024 or 2023.

In 2019, however, both the BJP and the Congress (through its youth wing Indian Youth Congress) spent 7,218 on 18 ads on Snap.

The BJP ran eight ads worth 5,881 between April 29 and May 10 that got 5,194,816 impressions. These ads were targeted users between the ages 18 and 23 years old in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana.

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The Indian Youth Congress ran 10 ads worth 1,337 at different times in April and May 2019 for a total of 1,228,319 impressions. Targeted only at adults, that is users above the age of 18 years, eight of the 10 ads were aimed at Maharashtra while the remaining two were directed at Chandigarh.

According to Snap’s ads policy, “Snapchat is a 13+ app, so we will reject ads that are addressed to, or intended to appeal to, children under 13.”

Two individuals linked to Shiromani Akali Dal ran political ads on Snap in 2024 and 2022. In 2024, Nardev Singh Mann, Shiromani Akali Dal’s candidate from Firozpur, Punjab. Mann spent 2,495 on a single ad that started running on Snap on May 28 and is still running. It targeted users within and around Firozpur. Snap, according to its ads policy, allows advertisers to target advertisements according to latitude and longitude, and to define the radius of targeting.

In 2022, Pardeep Singh Kollianwali, a member of Student Organization of India, the student wing of SAD, ran three advertisements --- two identical static ads, and one video ad with his music track --- worth 151 that got 36,664 impressions on the platforms. One of these ads was targeted at people under the age of 35 years and at users in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh.

Snap relies on human reviews to fact-check all its political and advocacy ads. “Snap’s team pre-reviews and fact-checks all political ads and we’ve partnered with Boom in India to augment these practices and provide additional, independent fact-checking support where needed,” a spokesperson for Snap said. “All political ads, including election-related ads and issue advocacy ads, must include a transparent “paid for” message that discloses the sponsoring organization,” she said.

Political ads debut on Spotify in India

Music streaming platform Spotify had suspended all political advertising in early 2020 due to the spate of misinformation ahead of the US presidential elections. In May 2022, the platform reintroduced political advertising after “strengthening and enhancing” its processes.

Earlier this year, Spotify introduced political advertising in India for the first time. Currently, Spotify allows political advertising only in India, US and UK as per its advertising policies. It requires the ads to clearly disclose the use of any “synthetic or manipulated media, including media created or edited with the use of artificial intelligence tools, that depicts real or realistic-looking people or events” in a “clear and conspicuous” manner within the advertisement.

“This is the first time (in the build up to the General Elections) that political advertisements went live on Spotify in India. Local political advertisements on Spotify were pre-approved by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The audio streaming platform has / will only publish such content that has been reviewed by the ECI for other platforms, including print, digital, and radio,” a spokesperson for Spotify said.

In the recently concluded general elections, only two political parties --- BJP and Congress --- released campaign ads on Spotify, a person aware of the matter said. These ads, that HT has seen and heard, are identical to the parties’ radio ads. BJP’s ads on Spotify played the party jingle, “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”, while Congress’s played its “Haat Badlega Halaat” song.

Despite reintroducing political ads, Spotify has not created a political ads library as other platforms have as part of their transparency measures. BJP’s head of social media strategy, Amit Malviya, declined to share details of the party’s ad spends on Spotify. HT has reached out to Congress for details.

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