The N-VA forked out 1.7 million for Facebook and Instagram ads. Vlaams Belang spent 1.1 million. Flemish parties occupy all six top places with the Francophone far left Labour Party on 7.
AdLens researcher Jan Steurs says that Flanders is an absolute big spender on Facebook. “Flanders easily overtakes countries like Sweden, the Netherlands and Hungary that held elections last year. The N-VA and Vlaams Belang are in the Top 3 of European spenders”.
AdLens is a collective that researches political ads on social media.
Peter Van Aelst, lecturer in political communication at Antwerp University, links the high expenditure in Flanders to the success of Vlaams Belang: “They led the pack when it came to online ads on Facebook in 2019. They did well in the elections. It boosts the idea that it can help you win elections”.
“Political parties are in constant election mode, even when there are no elections. Facebook ads are relatively cheap compared to newspaper ads and it’s a way parties can communicate their ideas”.
Political marketing expert Reinout Van Zandycke notes that 5 million is an awful lot as Facebook ads are relatively cheap. Moreover, in non-election years hardly anything is spent on newspaper ads.