This is part one of three, looking at the major online ad platforms as we head into the elections. Today, we are doing a deep dive on Google ads.

You can run 3 types of ads via Google:

  1. Search ads, top results you see when you Google something. These are text based ads
  2. YouTube ads, videos that roll before you can watch what you came for. Viewers can skip after about 5 seconds, so grabbing attention fast is key
  3. Display ads, which you see on any website. These can be text or video

While anyone can set up a Facebook account and spend a few Euro on an ad, Google has a higher barrier to entry. In Ireland, parties are running Google ads rather than candidates. {The Google ad archive is here.}

Freedom of reach

The Irish Freedom Party, Eurosceptics who received between 0.19% and 2% in elections over the past 6 years, have spent €4,100 in the past 3 weeks on video ads on YouTube. This makes them the biggest spenders on YouTube ads this election.

The party is running 6 ads, mostly talking heads, though one is an attack ad against rival Ireland South candidate (and poll frontrunner) Fine Gael's Sean Kelly.

The following ad get the party's key message across in the first few seconds. It has been shown over 200,000 times in the 13 counties of the Midlands-North-West constituency, for a cost of somewhere over €600. A similar ad, costing over €1k, has been shown between 300,000 and 350,000 times. You can see all their ads here.

A screenshot of the Google ad archive, showing one of six ads running for the Irish Freedom Party. Source

Sinn Féin's big bet on costly text ads

Looking across all Google ads, however, the biggest spender is Sinn Féin, who in the last 3 weeks have spent €9,000, and €21,000 since the start of April.

This spend has been on just 5 nationwide ads, all text based (see example below).

One of these ads, a simple text ad linking to the "Join" page of their website, cost up to €9k, and was seen over 70,000 times. This high cost per view suggests a targeted approach, with Sinn Fein paying more for coveted Google results page spots for popular search terms, though no information on that is available (any tips - let me know).

A screenshot of the Google ad archive, showing one of six ads running for Sinn Fein. Source

Labouring away slowly

The Labour Party were the first out of the blocks on highly produced YouTube ads, but rather than ramping up, they are continuing their relatively low daily spend of between €50-€100, totally about €1.3k in the past 3 weeks.

This spend is spread across 31 ads, with their Dublin candidate featured very prominently, perhaps representing their brightest hope for a European seat.

A selection of ads being run by the Labour Party in May 2024, source

Social Climbers

The Social Democrats have adopted a more textbook pattern of ramping up their ads as we approach polling day - spending over €1k last week.

Their ads are nicely produced and have an impressive degree of tailoring across platforms, like this video ad of their Dublin candidate, with 4 variations to work across display and YouTube ads.

Social Democrats ad spend increasing over time as the election approaches. Source: Google ad archive

Government parties leaving it to Brussels

Interestingly, no Government party - Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Greens - is running ads via Google, and prominent candidates don't appear in the archive either.

Their political grouping in Brussels are running ads in Ireland, as part of EU wide campaigns.

Fianna Fáil's Renew is spending €200 a day in Ireland, most of it on an earnest "Get out the vote" campaign aimed at first time voters, which has set them back €70k+ across the EU.

Fine Gael's EPP have an equally earnest ad, but (on brand) are more politically minded, spending slightly more per day in Ireland than Renew, but on issue based text ads, on organised crime, health and SMEs.

The European Greens were running ads back in April, but seem to have stopped. We will see if they come back - this video of Irish candidate Grace O'Sullivan, shown across Europe, is a great example of personal political storytelling.

A YouTube ad by the European Greens Source

Next up: Meta. Watch your inbox.

Also - I love feedback, if you mad it this far - let me know what you think.

Campaign round up: Irish Freedom Party dominating YouTube ad spend

The Irish Freedom Party spent €4,100 in the past 3 weeks on YouTube ads, the biggest spenders on YouTube ads this election.