LONDON: As the UK heads toward the polls, both the Conservative and Labour parties have increased search spending, though the former is by far the biggest spender, according to new figures.

Data compiled by competitive-intelligence-for-search platform Adthena uncovered the paid search bidding patterns of the UK's two major political parties.

With the aim of influencing voters, the Conservative Party has accounted for 30% of ad spend on election-related search terms, with a rapid rise since May 26 – the party came under fire for a series of policy U-turns that week.

Following the core theme that the Conservative Party has tried to set this election – the UK's exit from the European Union – the figures show that its search focus has been on Brexit-related terms. The Labour opposition has pushed hard on the government's controversial social care plans, which were rapidly dubbed a dementia tax.

Despite disparities in spend, both parties have seen roughly the same cost per individual click, averaging around £1.50. But for Labour, whose share of spend has been significantly lower, the rate of impressions has been much higher compared to spend.

The two parties have employed very different strategies, with Labour responding to U-turns and the policies in the Conservative manifesto, bidding on 579 terms. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have sought to amplify doubt in the ability of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to handle Brexit negotiations, focusing on 110 terms.

As a result, Labour has been more reactive to trends emerging during the campaign, continually altering its strategy to capitalise on search terms related to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos.

Commenting on the findings, Adthena's CEO Ian O'Rourke said Labour's wide strategy had brought them varied success.

"The Labour Party has a larger search environment it is operating in than its rival. However, the Conservative Party has continued to see higher share of clicks and impressions on the limited number of search terms it is targeting."

He suggested that the opposition might find more success by adopting a more focused strategy. "The Conservative Party," he concluded, "are having slightly more success but only the result of the vote on June 8th will reveal the true winner."

Data sourced from Adthena, Financial Times, Telegraph; additional content by WARC staff