In just four days 1.3 million targeted adverts have been blasted across the Facebook feeds of women over 55 – a number equal to around a third of the 3.7 million women affected by the policy.
The ad blitz, one of the biggest single-issue online targeted campaigns UK politics has seen, is costing the party as much as £8,000 a day, but Labour chiefs hope it will pay dividends in marginal seats.
Facebook transparency statistics show that the adverts are exclusively targeted at women over 55 and that not a single person from another demographic has been shown them – meaning they are flying largely under the radar of the main campaign.
Labour says it will compensate women affected by the equalisation of the state pension age, a policy introduced by David Cameron’s government has seen many women nearing retirement lose out. Compensation has since 2015 been the main campaign demand of the group “Women Against State Pension Inequality” or Waspi, and the party believes the pledge will help it gain ground with older voters who have traditionally favoured the Tories.
The push comes as Jeremy Corbyn’s party squeezes the Conservatives in the polls, with their vote share rising steadily as election day approaches and the prospect of a hung parliament moving into view.
The “Waspi” women issue is the perfect terrain for targeted Facebook adverts because it specifically affects women in a particular age group. Facebook adverts can be targeted to only be shown to people in a particular age and gender demographic.
If each of the adverts were shown to a different Facebook user, around 35 per cent of the women affected by the policy would have been shown one. In reality this is unlikely because people will have been shown the advert multiple times – but the numbers involved are still vast for promoting a single policy.
Some of the adverts bear a simple message: “1950s women, Labour is on your side”, which links through to a calculator to show voters how much they would save.
Another variant, promoted from Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook page, features a video of campaigners talking about the effect of the change on their lives.
“The current government just won’t engage with us,” one says. “That’s the worst feeling in the world to feel that you’re being ignored and sidelined.” Sharing the video, Jeremy Corbyn says his party will “correct this historic wrong”.
The issue has become a key dividing line with the Conservatives: Boris Johnson on Friday criticised Labour’s pledge to compensate the women and said that “not clear where the money is coming from”. The Prime Minister said he “appreciates the frustration and disappointment” of women affected, but the economy must me managed “prudently”.
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