Turkey’s parties spend millions on digital marketing for local elections

Turkey's political parties and mayoral candidates spent over 500 million liras (15.5 million USD) on digital marketing campaigns in the month before the local elections of 31 March 2024, revealed data from Meta.

Duvar English

Yasin Kaplan, the School of Digital Marketing founder, said that over 500 million TL had been spent on digital advertising in the month before Turkey's local elections.

Analyzed data from Meta, Kaplan noted that spending competition between parties increased as election day approached in an interview with the daily Cumhuriyet.

The Republican People's Party (CHP) spent over 32 million Turkish liras, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spent nearly 6.8 million liras on digital advertising in the 30 days before the elections. 

According to these numbers, the main opposition CHP was the biggest spender on digital marketing, with a total budget that was more than 5.5 times that of its closest competitor AKP. 

The Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) came third with 4.7 million liras.

The party received a total of 150,000 votes across Turkey, making each vote worth a whopping 31 liras.

Then followed the Felicity (Saadet) Party with two million liras, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with 1.4 million liras. 

Facebook ads were preferred to target Turkey’s retirees, who were seen as a decisive audience in the local elections. Other preferred platforms were Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok with mainly video advertisements. 

“TikTok was an important platform for politicians to appeal to the young voters,” said Kaplan.

Due to the strict advertisement policy of TikTok, politicians opted to collaborate with platform influencers to disseminate their content. 

Along with political parties, mayoral candidates also incurred personal costs for digital marketing campaigns. 

Istanbul’s re-elected mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu of the CHP spent 5.3 million liras, whereas his opponent Murat Kurum from the AKP spent 5.1 million liras.

The AKP candidate for the Aegean province of İzmir, Hamza Dağ, spent some 2.4 million liras for his online campaign. He garnered over 977 thousand votes in the province that has been CHP’s stronghold for years. 

Kaplan also drew attention to some of the mistakes political parties and leaders made in their campaigning efforts. 

The late-night mass text messages from candidates violated the Personal Data Protection Law (KVKK), held Kaplan. 

“These kinds of wrongdoings by political leaders could erode public trust and create a negative impression on potential voters,” he commented. 

He urged political leaders to observe ethical boundaries during their election campaigns.