Richard Cannings (NDP), Connie Denesiuk (Liberal), Carolina Hopkins (Independent), Tara Howse (Green), Helena Konanz (Conservative) and Sean Taylor (People’s Party) are the six candidates running in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding in the 2019 federal election.                                (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Richard Cannings (NDP), Connie Denesiuk (Liberal), Carolina Hopkins (Independent), Tara Howse (Green), Helena Konanz (Conservative) and Sean Taylor (People’s Party) are the six candidates running in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding in the 2019 federal election. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

How local candidates are using Facebook to advertise directly to you

Liberal campaign is the biggest spender on Facebook ads in South Okanangan–West Kootenay

Facebook scrollers who live in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay federal electoral riding may have noticed a rainbow of sponsored posts crop up on their feeds, promoted by the campaigns of local candidates between last June and now. It’s because social media advertising has become a key battleground for political campaigns – promoted posts can be more discrete than lawn signs, but more impactful too.

As of Oct. 13, Facebook had earned $11.5 million by publishing 78,603 political ads related to the 2019 Federal election.

Facebook was compelled to make advertising data public after the Elections Modernization Act (Bill C-76) became law in December 2018 and was rolled out in June. The act stipulates third parties such as Facebook must report the number of partisan advertisements it publishes, who purchases those ads and how much money is spent.

Google Canada has said it is not accepting political ads during the election period.

Nationally, the Conservative Party of Canada has spent $987,695 on Facebook ads since June, nearly one third of that sum having been spent between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16. Ads promoting Justin Trudeau’s page have cost his campaign $874,294 for the same time period, while the Liberal Party has spent an extra $691,369 on its national campaign. The NDP has spent $246,648, the Green Party, $45,639 and the People’s Party, $19,817.

While Facebook allows anyone to see any ads, inactive or still in circulation, that are “about social issues, elections or politics,” the audience data it offers is restricted to generalizations. The site’s ad disclosure tool does not reveal any region more precise than a province.

When creating an ad on Facebook, a page administrator can direct any particular post to single out a select audience. Facebook offers the user the option of singling out men or women, while defining things like age ranges and locations, as well as an individual’s interests and behaviours, such as “opposition to immigration,” “traveller” and “Facebook Page admins.”

Targeting ads in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding

Locally, four of the six candidates in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding are stretching their dollars online as well by running ads. Neither People’s Party candidate Sean Taylor nor Independent Carolina Hopkins have purchased any.

Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk is the riding’s top online spender, having dropped $5,722 between June and Oct. 16 on Facebook ads that were directed to residents of B.C, allowing the campaign’s ads to appear on Facebook news feeds more than 100,000 times.

Messages in more than half of the 26 ads put out by the Denesiuk campaign convey messages encouraging people to vote in the election, some ads being more overtly partisan than others, with a handful asking their audiences to “vote early for Justin Trudeau.” More often than not, Denesiuk’s ads were directed to men and women in two key age ranges: 25-34 and 55 and over. None of her campaign’s ads attacked other candidates or parties.

While the Denesiuk campaign concentrated some of their spending on people under 34, ads from Conservative candidate Helena Konanz were targeted, more often than not, at men and women over 65. In fact, women under 24 made up zero per cent of the targeted audiences for at least 15 of the 39 ads put out by the Konanz camp, which spent $3,133 on Facebook ads between June and Oct. 16. Meanwhile, men and women over 65 made up 38 per cent of an ad promoting the Conservative promise of a child tax credit. People ranging in age from 18 to 54 made up 37 per cent of that same ad’s audience.

According to Statistics Canada population data for the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary, 29.5 per cent of the region’s population is over 65, suggesting that ads targeting older audiences were in tune with the voter make-up of the area. One third of the riding’s largest city, Penticton, is also people aged 65 and over.

Tailoring the message

The Konanz campaign was also the only one to promote posts attacking other parties and their leaders. Fourteen of the 39 ads went after Konanz’s opposition. For example, three versions of an August ad used the move from NDP to Green by Quebec candidate Pierre Nantel to suggest to voters, “Don’t waste your time on a dying party.” Another ad, building off NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s comments on a possible coalition with the Liberal Party, said that a vote for her NDP counterpart “is a vote for Justin Trudeau. You can’t afford it.”

Spending just one twentieth of what Konanz has on Facebook ads, NDP Richard Cannings has put out 15 ads for $153, as of Oct. 16. Cannings’s ads have also zeroed in on older demographics. On average, women over 65 made up 18.5 per cent of the targeted audience. The ads themselves have all been party-related – 7 are endorsements from various public figures, while the others advertise party campaign promises on things like medicare and climate change. Only one ad from the Cannings camp mentions another party (the Conservatives). The ad evokes cuts made under a Stephen Harper government.

While all candidates who put out Facebook ads directed more content towards older users of the platform, Green Party candidate Tara Howse had at least three ads appear for audiences between 13 and 17 as well. The ads had future-looking messages and were also heavily directed to grandparent-aged users as well.

In total, Elections Canada permits each candidate in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding to spend $130,238 on their campaign, approximately $15,000 less than what is permitted in the neighbouring riding of Kootenay–Columbia.

The figures don’t guarantee candidates will actually spend to the limit of what’s allowed. Elections Canada says limits are calculated based on the following factors: the number of candidates; electoral districts with fewer candidates than the national average; and geographic areas where the number of candidates per square kilometre is less than 10.

The final number is also affected by the inflation adjustment factor on the day the election was called, which this year was Sept. 11.

With files from Tyler Harper

*Figures for this story were compiled on Oct. 18.

RELATED:South Okanagan–West Kootenay candidates answer students’ questions at Grand Forks forums

RELATED: Check your mail for your Voter Information Card


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Jasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve Smith
New children’s book features lost Castlegar dog who swam the Columbia multiple times

Brent and Mary Hummel and Jasper tell their dramatic story

Coby Reid helped rescue this bobcat from where it had frozen to the train tracks. Photo: Coby Reid
Bobcat deliverer shares details from Kootenay train track rescue

Coby Reid helped rescue a bobcat that was frozen to train tracks near Waneta bridge

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read