A spend of $7.1 million translates into nearly one billion impressions.
The Israeli government launched a vast propaganda campaign strategically aimed at Western nations, in a concentrated effort to shape international public opinion as it continues to wage a brutal war on the besieged Gaza Strip.
This multi-faceted campaign is being executed across several platforms, including X and YouTube, and involves the dissemination of emotionally charged and graphic advertisements, according to a data analysis carried out by Politico.
Journalist Sophia Smith, in a thread on X, noted that the Israeli government spent close to $7.1 million solely on YouTube ads.
Smith utilised the analytic tool Semrush, a platform that estimates expenditures on ad campaigns, along with Google’s ad transparency centre. According to her research, the campaign explicitly targeted France, Germany, and the United Kingdom among other nations, releasing a total of 88 ads in a short span from October 7 to October 19.
Israel declared war and launched one of its most relentless bombing campaigns in the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing more than 4,385 Palestinians, including at least 1,756 children since. Israel’s intense bombardment campaign has resulted in the deaths of more than 10 Israeli hostages in Gaza, according to statements from Hamas.
A deeper dive into the metrics indicated that the campaign had an overwhelming reach, amassing nearly a billion impressions.
Notably, a sum of $1.1 million allocated to targeting the United Kingdom alone.
Smith’s investigation also revealed a disconcerting pattern. Some videos would appear and disappear from the ad centre intermittently, suggesting a possible violation of YouTube’s ad guidelines. Politico reported that Google had removed 30 of the Israeli government’s ads because they did not comply with their guidelines.
Google maintains stringent policies against the promotion of ads containing violent language, gruesome imagery, or graphic depictions of physical trauma.
Despite this, a continuous cycle of uploading and activation of such graphic ads was observed. One recurring ad, for example, disturbingly claimed to depict the autopsy of an Israeli child burned alive.
The campaigns unambiguously labelled Hamas as a “vicious terrorist group,” while drawing parallels with the Islamic State militant group.
A wide range of emotional manipulation strategies was employed.
Ads ranged from depicting severe forms of violence to playing lullabies against a backdrop of a rainbow, pleading with parents to empathise with those whose children had been killed during attacks on Israel.
Geographically, the propaganda was heavily skewed towards Europe, with nearly 50 video ads in the English language directed at European Union countries.
Meanwhile, viewers in the United States and the United Kingdom were served 10 and 13 ads, respectively. Notably, one video had accumulated over 3 million views in just four days.