More than $12 million was spent by political parties on social media advertising in the lead up to the federal election, a new report has found.

Research from the Australia Institute found $12.5 million was spent to run almost 27,000 political ads on Facebook and Instagram in the two months leading up to the May 21 poll.

During the two-month period, Labor spent the most, with $5 million being used on the social media advertising, compared to $3.5 million by the coalition.

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The research found Labor and the Greens were more successful in engaging women in online advertising compared with the coalition.

Analysis revealed the Melbourne-based seat of Kooyong, where former treasurer Josh Frydenberg lost the once blue-ribbon seat to independent Monique Ryan, had the highest social media ad spend of any electorate.

Almost $340,000 was spent on social media ads in Kooyong, with $219,000 of that coming from the coalition.

The next highest-spending electorate was the prime minister’s seat of Grayndler, which had $204,200 in total.

Rounding out the top five seats for social media spending were all electorates where teal independents successfully challenged Liberal incumbents.

They included Wentworth, which had $165,900, North Sydney on $151,250 and Mackellar on $119,800.

Exit polling released in conjunction with the report also found nearly three quarters of people surveyed had reported seeing misleading political ads during the campaign.

Of those surveyed, 73 per cent saw misleading ads, while 86 per cent supported new truth in political advertising laws being implemented before the next election.

Deputy director of the Australia Institute Ebony Bennett said the polling showed there was a need for truth in political advertising.

“It’s perfectly legal to lie in a political ad in Australia and it shouldn’t be,” she said.

“The new parliament has an opportunity to improve democratic integrity by supporting the reforms flagged by independent MP Zali Steggall, based on the (South Australia) model laws.”

It comes as the results for the 2022 federal election were finalised, with the Australian Electoral Commission declaring all 151 lower house seats.

Wednesday’s declaration confirmed the new Labor government will have 77 seats in the 47th parliament, the coalition 58 and the Greens four. There will be 12 seats shared among minor parties and independents.

The final two-party preferred vote was Labor on 52.13 per cent, compared to the coalition’s 47.87 per cent.

The final figure represented a 3.66 per cent swing to Labor.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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