The Wire has managed to collect data on how much India’s political parties spent on their digital campaigns for the 2024 General Elections. Whilst some of this data is on expected lines (eg. “India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the primary spender of Google Ads, spending Rs 116 crores within the initial five months of the election year 2024. The opposition Congress stood at distant second with Rs 45.4 crore, while regional parties like Biju Janata Dal, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party and the consulting firm I-PAC spent Rs 21.2 crores, Rs 12.8 crores, and Rs 9.23 crores respectively), there are many other surprising insights embedded in this piece.

For example, the BJP’s strong showing in Odisha seems to be linked to its disproportionate digital spend focused on that state. Snehasis Mukhopadhyay of The Wire writes, “Odisha emerged as an unexpected newcomer atop the list, surpassing Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal in terms of digital ad-spend.”

Even more interestingly, the BJP did NOT spend disproportionately in the Hindi states but instead focused its digital spending in the southern states. The Congress on the other hand followed a very different approach to allocating its digital spending budget: “The opposition Congress was chasing different dynamics. This year, their highest expenditure was in Maharashtra, amounting to 54 million, followed by Haryana. Notably, these two states are where Congress is aiming to drastically overturn the political scenario. Furthermore, these states are scheduled for assembly elections immediately following the general elections, where Congress aspires to stage a significant comeback.”

To the extent that all of us learn from feedback, even more than in corporate life, in politics the feedback on a given party’s digital spending efforts is almost instantaneous and the impact (or lack thereof) of that spend is long lasting (five years).

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