Paid advertising on social media: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02164
Date received: 25 September 2017
Date responded: 20 October 2017

Information requested

(1). The costs incurred by the Scottish Government in paid advertising on social media, including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn over the last two years, broken down by quarter and social media platform.

(2). A copy of the digital file or a link to each social media asset used in paid campaigns by the Scottish Government, along with details of each platform it was published on, and the specific audience that the Scottish Government opted to target the advert at. This information can easily be obtained from the platforms themselves, through for example, the Facebook "Business Manager" page - or the equivalent for the other platforms.

(3). A copy of any meeting minutes, reports, emails, presentations or other internal documents held that discusses the strategy, performance and evaluation of paid, social media marketing undertaken by the department.


I enclose some of the information you requested. The answer to question (1) is as follows:

Facebook Instagram You Tube Twitter Linked In
July-Sep 2015 £51,011.52 £2,100.00 £943.93
Oct-Dec 2015 £72,913.76 £10,098.66 £16,670.62
Jan-March 2016 £87,655.55 £8,956.15 £2,625.00
Apr-June 2016 £12,890.47 £868.00
July-Sep 2016 £53,941.96 £644.00 £11,527.00
Oct-Dec 2016 £52,497.44 £1,874.08 £4,975.00
Jan-Mar 2017 £82,373.45 £10,955.00 £31,336.36 £7,000.00 £4,515.00
Apr-Jun 2017 £46,494.00 £2,264.00 £6,593.00
Total £459,778.15 £17,837.08 £62,786.17 £38,807.55 £4,515.00

In recent years, social media advertising spend has increased as its importance as a cost-effective channel has also increased, while overall media advertising spend has decreased.

The answer to question (2) is attached in two separate files.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 12.1.1 'Excessive Cost of Compliance', applies to that information. Public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

The resource required to provide an adequate response to question (3) will exceed the upper cost limit stated above.

You may wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. This might reasonably be achieved by outlining the portfolio area in which you have particular interest, or by defining a shorter time period within which you wish to see the requested information. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on her website at:

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section 12.1.1 of FOISA applies to the information you have requested. This section states that:

(1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a Scottish public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed such amount as may be prescribed in regulations made by the Scottish Ministers; and different amounts may be so prescribed in relation to different cases.

In summary, it is estimated that to generate the amount of information requested, more time would be required than is available under the terms of this exemption, particularly around answers to the points requested in 2 and 3.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-17-02164 - About Scotland - FB and Instagram.xlsx
FOI-17-02164 - Ready scotland - Facebook.xlsx
FOI-17-02164 - Campaign - Timing - URL Link - Target group.xlsx
FOI-17-02164- Copy of About Scotland - Twitter.xlsx
FOI-17-02164 - Campaign name and publisher platfrom.xlsx


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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