Facebook makes close to 98% of its billions and billions of dollars off of targeted ads. The company hasn’t shied away when it comes to taking ad dollars from disreputable sources—including the oil industry.
A new study from InfluenceMap, a think-tank devoted to shining a light on Big Oil’s marketing strategies, shows just how much money Big Oil is spending. According to the group, companies like Exxon and Shell spent a collective $9.6 million advertising across Facebook’s platform last year. More than 25,000 ads that were run by the companies fueling the climate crisis, but the underlying narrative was largely the same: Big Oil isn’t the bad guy that you might have heard about. (To be clear, it is indeed the bad guy.)
Naturally, Facebook ads aren’t the only place these companies are trying to push these sorts of narratives. We’ve seen oil companies tap influencers across (fellow Facebook property) Instagram to post pictures filling up their vehicles at major gas stations. We’ve seen oil giants use their Twitter accounts to gaslight users into thinking that climate change is a problem for individuals to solve.
When it comes to Facebook ads, though, InfluenceMap was able to narrow down the messaging oil companies used across their 25,174 ad dataset into four different categories. The first bucket, and the largest—making up 48% of the ads in the dataset—were the ads that tried to present oil and gas as being “part of the solution” to climate change as a whole. This is an argument we’ve seen from major oil suppliers like Shell and BP increasingly turning to, despite the fact that it’s wrong. So wrong.
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