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Alcohol advertising on social media platforms – A 1-year snapshot

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To shed light on the current placement of online advertising by alcohol companies, we have developed methods to document alcohol advertising on Meta social media platforms. This report presents initial findings from a study monitoring these adverts. It provides an early illustration of the amount and type of advertising alcohol producers, retailers and venues are disseminating on the Meta ecosystem. 

Key findings: 

  • There is a copious amount of online advertising being placed by alcohol companies, with 39,820 distinct alcohol advertisements captured from 351 prominent producers, retailers and venues on Meta platforms in Australia over a 12-month period. This equates to an average of 765 distinct alcohol advertisements disseminated per week. 
  • The number of alcohol advertisements showed a seasonal pattern, with December being the most common time of the year to publish new alcohol advertisements and Christmas and New Year being major themes in advertising content during this period.  
  • Alcohol producers and retailers disseminated the largest overall number of distinct alcohol advertisements (27,272 and 8,713 respectively). 30% of all advertisements by alcohol producers distributed over the 12-month period on Meta platforms were published by one of six multinational alcohol producers (e.g., Bacardi Limited, Heineken and Diageo). 83% of all advertisements by alcohol retailers distributed over the 12-month period on Meta platforms were published by one of five large holding companies (e.g., Coles Group, Endeavor Group and Liquor Marketing Group).  
  • Alcohol advertising on Meta platforms is intrinsically linked to the online sale and delivery of alcohol, using a direct portal for companies to sell alcohol directly into the home. Most alcohol advertisements contained a call-to-action button (78%), with 66.7% of alcohol retailer advertisements containing a ‘Shop Now’ button. This creates a situation where the advertisement becomes the shop front, reducing the space between advertising exposure and purchasing decisions. This is highly problematic for alcohol because it is an addictive substance. 
  • The methods developed in this research have enabled insight into the amount and type of content being distributed by alcohol advertisers on Meta platforms. However, Meta fails to provide information on advertising targeting, spend and reach of advertisements (except for political advertisements). This makes it difficult to develop a holistic understanding of alcohol marketing on these platforms, including understanding how often people are exposed to these advertisements and the ways in which people are being targeted with alcohol advertising on these platforms.  
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FARE continues to fund and undertake research that contributes to the knowledge-base about alcohol harms and strategies to reduce them.

This research is used to inform our approach to evidence-based alcohol policy development, ensuring that the solutions we are advocating for are informed by research. FARE’s research is also often quoted by governments, other not-for-profit organisations and researchers in public discussions about alcohol, demonstrating that FARE is seen as a leading source of information.

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