Two hands with Australian flag pictured

The Australian Ad Observatory project monitors federal election advertising on Facebook

Authors Daniel Angus and Axel Bruns
Date 26 April 2022

The 2022 Australian federal election campaign has begun and ADM+S researchers Professor Daniel Angus and Professor Axel Bruns will provide weekly updates as they monitor election-related advertising on Facebook through the Australian Ad Observatory project.

The content of advertising in the first week focussed significantly on voter enrolment, with many candidates spreading messages encouraging constituents to enrol, and to ensure that their enrolment details were up to date. This messaging seems to have worked as the AEC reported a record number of voter enrolments over the Easter weekend, and projected total enrolment of eligible voters will be just shy of 97%.

Politician holding photo of young Anthony Albanese

Figure 1: An example ‘enrolment’ ad run by the Australian Labor Party. This ad was exclusively targeted to 18-24-year-olds in NSW.

The Liberal Party have already run a considerable number of attack-style ads, questioning the credibility of the opposition leader Anthony Albanese on several issues such as the economy, and accusing Labor of lying. The Labor Party have instead focussed on positive policy messaging, outlining value statements and plans for supporting health, education, jobs, and clean energy.

Liberal party advertising on social media

Labor party advertising on social media

Figures 2 & 3: These ads from the Liberal Party and Labor Party highlight a stark campaign difference in these first weeks, with the Liberals pursuing an attack strategy while the ALP adopt policy-focussed messaging.

We have not caught any ‘dark’ ads via the Ad Observatory yet, but if any are located we will share them in coming weeks.

With the campaign now in full swing, we’ll see how quickly candidates and their parties may respond to new developments, gaffes, policy initiatives, and other campaign events in their advertising strategies – and we’ll keep a close eye on any nefarious ‘dark ads’ that may appear in the mix, too.

Indeed, with Anthony Albanese now in COVID quarantine, online campaigning is likely to play an even greater role in the overall election campaign over the coming week: Labor will be forced to adjust to the absence of its Prime Ministerial candidate from public events and promote the ‘virtual Albo’ instead. This time next week, we should be able to tell how well that strategy has worked out.

For a further look at campaigning on social media during the election including advertising spend and social media engagement of candidates on Facebook and Twitter visit the Digital Media Research Centre, QUT 2022 Australian Federal Election: Update 1.