GE2020: Did the top spenders on digital advertising get their worth in reach on social media?

The Elections Department (ELD) has released the election expenses records on 21 August for public inspection, which revealed the total expenditure details of each political parties’ candidates who contested in the General Election (GE) 2020.

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) recorded the highest amount of total expenditure with S$6.97 million spent on the 93 seats it contested in the election. While the alternative candidates spent S$2.19 million altogether.

This year’s GE was different due to the absence of physical rallies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Political parties were given more airtime instead, and candidates can opt to hold e-rally livestreams at the venues provided by the Government.

The new rules seem to have changed the way political candidates approached advertising, with some candidates splurged over S$30,000 on digital advertising just to increase their public engagements.

After analysing the election expenses records, we narrowed down to the top 15 politicians with the highest amount of expenditure on digital advertising and compared with their total interactions on social media – based on data from CrowdTangle, a public insights tool owned and operated by Facebook – from 30 June to 10 July.

The value of social media in the political world should depend heavily on the level of interactions the page or account achieves, which can be measured based on the sum of likes, shares, comments and reactions on Facebook to the content the person is checking.

1. Mariam Jaafar, S$34,794

PAP’s Mariam Jaafar – who contested in Sembawang GRC alongside PAP’s Ong Ye Kung, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Vikram Nair and Poh Li San – took the first spot as the biggest spender on digital advertising with S$34,794. Her team beat the National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) team with 67.29 per cent of the votes.

Although she spent exorbitant amounts of money on digital advertising, her total interactions on social media remain below 10,000 with only 6,019 of total interactions. Additionally, Ms Mariam garnered 14,072 total views on her videos that were posted between 30 June to 10 July.

2. Ong Ye Kung, Poh Li San, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Vikram Nair; Each spent S$34,294 on digital advertising

While Ms Mariam listed as the biggest spender on digital advertising among all politicians, her four teammates contesting in Sembawang GRC came second with each spent S$34,294 on digital advertising.

Mr Ong, who is now the Minister for Transport, had garnered 90,633 of total interactions on Facebook and 232,828 total views on his videos.

Ms Poh, however, only had 5,466 total interactions on Facebook and 18,528 total views on all her videos posted on 30 June to 10 July.

As for Mr Vikram, his Facebook garnered 16,689 total interactions and 25,008 total views on videos.

Overall, the PAP’s team for Sembawang GRC spent S$171,970 on digital advertising, which is much higher than its opponent NSP’s 41,650.

3. Chan Chun Sing, S$32,784

PAP’s Chan Chun Sing was ranked the third biggest spender on digital advertising with a total of S$32,784. Mr Chan had garnered 42,042 total interactions on Facebook and 37,399 total views on videos from 30 June to 10 July.

The Minister for Trade and Industry (MTI) contested in Tanjong Pagar GRC alongside PAP’s Indranee Rajah, Joan Pereira, Alvin Tan Sheng Hui and Eric Chua Swee Leong, in which the team won 63.13 per cent of the votes against Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

PSP, on the other hand, spent zero on digital advertising.

4. Darryl David Wilson, S$31,654

PAP’s Darryl David Wilson spent S$31,654 on digital advertising, but only managed to garner 8,515 total interactions on Facebook and 44,790 total views on videos posted from 30 June to 10 July.

Mr Wilson’s team, which comprised of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Gan Thiam Poh, Darryl David, Nadia Ahmad Samdin, and Ng Ling Ling, beat the Reform Party (RP) with 71.91 per cent of the votes.

Meanwhile, each candidate of RP spent less than S$40 on digital advertising.

5. Eric Chua Swee Leong, S$30,594

Another PAP’s candidate for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Eric Chua Swee Leong, listed as one of the biggest spenders on digital advertising in the GE2020 with S$30,594. Despite Mr Chua’s high amount of spending on digital advertising, his total interactions on Facebook only reached to 5,911 and 9,171 total views on videos.

6. Lee Hsien Loong, S$29,536

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took the sixth spot with S$29,536 spent on digital advertising. He spearheaded his team – which comprised of Nadia Ahmad Samdin, Darryl David, Gan Thiam Poh and Ng Ling Ling – in Ang Mo Kio GRC against the RP’s team whose each candidate spent below S$40 on digital advertising.

PM Lee garnered 330,253 total interactions on Facebook and 1.5 million total views on his videos from 30 June to 10 July. It is noteworthy that the videos during that time frame were all shared videos.

7. Gan Thiam Poh, Nadia Ahmad Samdin, Ng Ling Ling; Each spent S$28,854 on digital advertising

Meanwhile, the other three PAP’s candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC ranked the seventh biggest spenders on digital advertising, with each spent S$28,854.

Ng Ling Ling garnered 7,092 of total interactions on Facebook and 21,960 total views on videos. Next is Nadia Ahmad, who only had 6,279 of total interactions on Facebook and 14,158 total views.

While Gan Thiam Poh’s total interactions on Facebook only reached to 1,934 and 18,726 total views.

8. Amy Khor, S$26,934

PAP’s Amy Khor – who contested and won 60.98 per cent of the votes in Hong Kah North SMC – had spent S$26,934 on digital advertising. Ms Khor’s total interactions on Facebook reached to 23,005 while her total views on videos were 119,629 between 30 June to 10 July.

Her opponent, PSP’s Gigene Wong, spent S$598 on digital advertising but managed to get 21,743 total interactions on Facebook and 350,305 total views on videos.

9. Shawn Huang, S$25,584

PAP’s Shawn Huang had spent S$25,584 in digital advertising, which gave him 6,016 total interactions on Facebook and 20,452 total views on videos. He contested in Jurong GRC alongside PAP’s Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Tan Wu Meng, Rahayu Mahzam, and Xie Yao Quan. The team won 74.62 per cent of the votes against Red Dot United (RDU).

Mr Huang was also the biggest spender on digital advertising compared to his teammates, who each spent less than S$20,000 on digital advertising.

Meanwhile, only one of RDU’s candidates, Ravi Philemon, spent S$105 on digital advertising. Mr Ravi’s teammates spent zero on digital advertising.

10. Zaqy Mohamad, S$24,957

PAP’s Zaqy Mohamad – who contested in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC alongside party members Lawrence Wong, Alex Yam and Hany Soh – was ranked the 10th biggest spender on digital advertising with S$24,957. From 30 June to 10 July, Mr Zaqy garnered 7,336 total interactions on Facebook and 37,686 total views on videos.

His teammates, however, each spent not more than S$21,000 on digital advertising. The PAP’s team won 63.18 per cent of the votes against Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) whose candidates each spent below S$13,000 on digital advertising.

11. Raymond Lye, S$24,826

PAP’s Raymond Lye was teamed up with party members Lam Pin Min, Ng Chee Meng and Amrin Amin to battle against the Workers’ Party (WP) in the newly-carved Sengkang GRC. PAP’s team lost to the WP who won 52.13 per cent of the votes in the GE.

Mr Lye spent S$24,826 on digital advertising, but only managed to reach 4,251 total interactions on Facebook and 10,476 total views on videos between 30 June to 10 July. While WP’s team did not spend a penny on digital advertising.

12. Mohd Maliki bin Osman, S$24,383

PAP’s Mohd Maliki bin Osman – who contested in East Coast GRC alongside PAP’s Heng Swee Keat, Tan Kiat How, Cheryl Chan and Jessica Tan – spent S$24,383 on digital advertising. He earned 23,041 total interactions on Facebook and 160,576 total views on videos.

His teammates each spent below S$20,000 on digital advertising. While the team’s opponent, the WP, spent zero. The PAP won 53.41 per cent of the votes against the WP.

13. Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong, Ng Eng Hen, Saktiandi Supaat; Each spent S$24,315 on digital advertising

PAP’s team for Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC was ranked 13th as the biggest spender on digital advertising, with each of the candidates – Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong, Ng Eng Hen, and Saktiandi Supaat – spent S$24,315. The team won 67.26 per cent of the votes against the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) whose each candidate spent less than S$300.

Mr Chee’s total interactions on Facebook reached to 23,080, and garnered 38,890 total views on videos.

Mr Ng garnered 58,622 total interactions on Facebook and 189,136 total views on videos.

Mr Saktiandi earned 7,507 total interactions on Facebook and 20,137 total views on videos. While Mr Chong only managed to get 3,634 total interactions on Facebook and 8,086 total views on videos.

14. Sim Ann, S$23,834

PAP’s Sim Ann – who contested in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC alongside PAP’s Vivian Balakrishnan, Christopher de Souza and Edward Chia – spent S$23,834 on digital advertising. She earned 34,207 total interactions on Facebook and 252,329 total views on videos between 30 June to 10 July.

Her teammates each spent below S$22,000 on digital advertising, while SDP’s team members each spent less than S$13,000. The PAP won 66.36 per cent of the votes against the SDP.

15. Josephine Teo, S$23,602

Minister of Manpower, Josephine Teo, was ranked the 15th biggest spender on digital advertising with S$23,602. Her total interactions on Facebook reached 44,354 and 27,689 total views on videos.

Ms Teo spearheaded her team members contesting in Jalan Besar GRC, Heng Chee How, Denise Phua and Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah – who each spent S$21,000 on digital advertising – and won 65.37 per cent of the votes against the Peoples Voice (PV) who spent zero on digital advertising.

7 alternative candidates spent zero on digital advertising but earned massive total interactions on FB

The alternative parties are constantly active on Facebook, compared to the PAP who possess the upper hand in the media landscape. The WP, SDP and PSP have been especially active in posting videos and hosting a live chat on Facebook.

SDP’s leader Chee Soon Juan took the first spot as the politician with the highest total interactions on Facebook. From 30 June to 10 July, Dr Chee has garnered 380,207 total interactions on Facebook and 2.21 million views on videos, though he only spent S$12,623 on digital advertising. While his opponent contesting in Bukit Batok SMC, PAP’s Murali Pillai, spent S$14,879 on digital advertising.

PV’s chief Lim Tean— who contested in Jalan Besar GRC alongside party members Leong Sze Hian, Nor Azlan Sulaiman and Michael Fang Amin—did not spend a penny on digital advertising but managed to earn 140,481 total interactions on Facebook and 907,550 total views on videos. His team lost to the PAP who won 65.37 per cent of the votes.

Following Mr Lim was WP’s Nicole Seah, who ranked as the fifth politician with the highest total interactions on Facebook. She had 110,847 total interactions on Facebook and 661,295 total views on videos, without spending any cost on digital advertising. Ms Seah contested in East Coast GRC alongside WP’s Dylan Ng, Kenneth Foo, Terence Tan and Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim. But the PAP won East Coast with 53.41 per cent of the votes.

PSP’s leader Dr Tan Cheng Bock came in 8th place, with 88,292 total interactions on Facebook and 151,187 total views on videos between 30 June to 10 July. Dr Tan – including his teammates contesting in West Coast GRC – spent zero on digital advertising. His team lost to the PAP who won 51.69 per cent of the votes.

WP’s He Ting Ru did not spend a single penny on digital advertising, but managed to earn 66,907 total interactions on Facebook and 523,184 total views on videos. Her team – comprises Louis Chua, Jamus Lim and Raeesah Khan – won 52.13 per cent of the votes against the PAP in Sengkang GRC.

Next is Dr Paul Tambyah from the SDP, who spent S$12,624 on digital advertising in the GE2020. Dr Paul had 57,821 total interactions on Facebook and 345,011 total views on videos from 30 June to 10 July. He lost to the PAP’s Liang Eng Hwa – who spent S$22,651 on digital advertising – by garnering only 46.26 per cent of the votes in Bukit Panjang SMC.

Lastly is the WP’s chief – who is now the leader of the opposition – Pritam Singh. He had 57,116 total interactions on Facebook and 104,591 total views on Facebook despite not spending any cost on digital advertising. His team won against the PAP in Aljunied GRC with 59.93 per cent of the votes.

Performance of the top spenders of digital ads during GE2020

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