A new study from Ipsos MORI has revealed that while there is a widespread perception that the internet has led to more transparency in politics, the reality is that politicians are spending more time in the digital arena, and are spending less time on traditional TV.
The study, which was commissioned by the Independent, analysed online spending by candidates and political parties from April to August this year.
It found that in 2016, a third of all online political spending went towards election campaigns, but by 2020, this had dropped to just a tenth of the amount spent on TV advertising.
In a bid to improve transparency in the way political parties are spending, Ipsos released its report in partnership with political party political spending on Tuesday, revealing how much money was spent online and how much political parties spent on traditional media in 2016.
The report analysed spending on digital advertising, television and radio ads, and online advertising.
In 2016, the largest digital ad spenders were the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the Greens and the Labour Party.
The Independent reported in October that the party was spending a record £3.6 million on digital ads and other media between October and December, while the Greens spent more than £2 million.
The Labour Party was second in the 2016 spending, with £1.9 million spent on digital media.
The Ipsos report found that the spending of the UK political parties was up by 11 per cent on 2015, when the UK was in the midst of the financial crisis.
The data also showed that candidates were spending significantly more on digital content, with candidates spending a total of £1,921,000 in 2016 online and £1 of each in digital media on TV and radio.
However, the Ipsos research also showed a decline in spending by parties on traditional radio, with the biggest drops in the Conservatives’ digital spending of £11,200 and the Liberal Democrats’ £6,500.
In 2016, only the Liberal Democratic Party spent more on radio advertising than TV advertising, and only the Conservatives spent more in the period between January and August than the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.