Campaign ads on television, radio and print media hardly swayed Indonesian voters' decisions in last month's presidential and legislative elections, new data from research company Nielsen showed.
During the campaign period between March 24 and April 13, government agencies, presidential and legislative candidates and political parties spent a total of Rp 1.1 trillion ($77 million) on advertising across all platforms.
Presidential nominees Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Prabowo Subianto topped the campaign ad spending with Rp 207 billion.
The General Elections Commissions (KPU) spent more than Rp 93 billion on ads encouraging people to vote and explaining the complicated voting process.
Legislative candidates also bought TV spots, radio segments and printed ads worth a total of Rp 92 billion.
But data showed the aggressive ad spending hardly had any impact on changing voters' preferences.
The seven biggest spenders among the political parties scarcely managed to improve their position since the last election in 2014, regardless of how much they spent on campaign ads this year.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) spent only half the money that Perindo – the biggest spender in this election – poured into campaign ads.
All the same, PDI-P, the party of incumbent President Jokowi, is set to retain its top position according to quick count results.
Golkar spent close to Rp 48 billion on campaign ads this year but still lost 3 percent of its votes since 2014, from 15 percent to 12 percent.
The three largest ad spenders – Perindo, PSI and Hanura – could not even manage to get past the 4 percent parliamentary threshold, which meant they failed to win a single seat in the House of Representatives.
Perindo, the party of media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, is likely to get only 3 percent of total votes despite spending close to Rp 61 billion on TV spots.
Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), the so-called "millennials' party," spent Rp 51.5 billion on ads but still failed to break the domination of established parties.
Hanura, founded by current Political and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, fared even worse. It is set to lose its parliamentary seats after burning through Rp 48 billion on campaign ads.
The National Awakening Party (PKB), a party with deep roots among members of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, only spent Rp 28 billion on campaign ads, but managed to gain more votes than Perindo, PSI and Hanura combined.
Nielsen derived its data from advertising activities across 15 TV stations, 98 newspapers, and 65 magazines and tabloids around the country. It does not include spending on digital platforms like Facebook and Google or outdoor advertising. It also did not take into account discounts for the ads.