The State of Targeting in German 2021 elections (Aug 30th to Sep 13th)

20th Sep 2021 | Share:

By Fabio Votta.

There are less than 10 days left until the German parliamentary elections and the campaigns are picking up steam by heavily increasing their spending.

Between August 30th and September 13th, 2021 Who Targets Me users saw over 12,000 political ads in their timelines. We can use the data they provide us with to explore the targeting of users in the final weeks of the campaigns.

Compared to the previous investigation into the targeting criteria used by political actors, which focused on the time between May and early August, we can observe some interesting differences.

A few highlights per party follow:


The CDU/CSU now seems to focus more on younger people (18-40 and 18-39) and are also targeting interest in the SPD and FDP and not just those interested in their own party. They’ve also run ads targeted at Entrepreneurship (“Unternehmertum”) and small business owners (“Inhaber von Kleinunternehmen”).

Targeting Network of the CDU Facebook ads

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting ads. The ad below is mainly responsible for the increased focus on targeting entrepreneurs and small business owners, which attacks the SPD for increasing debt and highlights that the CDU stands for solid government finances. It’s worth noting that in the two days it ran, the CDU spent between €10,000 and €15,000 on this ad alone. It shows that the CDU sees the SPD as a real threat and the main competitor for chancellorship at this point of the campaign.

This CDU ad is targeted at small business owners, and people with an interest in business management, female entrepreneurs, start-ups, the magazine “The Economist” and entrepreneurship.

The shift towards younger voters is mainly due to the ad below which is a campaign ad by the youth organization of the CDU (“Junge Union”). The CDU/CSU performs best with older age groups so this is an interesting strategy for them to choose. It may show an attempt by the party to reach new voters since the SPD has surpassed the CDU/CSU in polls recently.

This ad was targeted at the age range of 18 – 40, using a lookalike audience, along with users who previously engaged with Facebook and Instagram CDU/CSU pages.


Another interesting shift in the last two weeks occurred for the Green party: they now seem to focus on two groups in their Facebook campaigning: 1) older people (30-65+) and 2) people interested in the SPD, often combined with people who are also interested in environmentalism and sustainability.

The Green Party is now targeting older voters as well as users with an interest in the SPD.

Why? Older, likely more affluent, voters who are also interested in environmental protection is an interesting demographic that the Greens have relied on in states where they do well (such as Baden-Württemberg)

Their targeting of SPD supporters is a reflection of their rival’s rise in the polls. The Greens may be hoping to tempt some of these voters back into their own camp.

Ads targeted at older people (30-65+), interest in SPD, and also various environmentalist interests (ecology, sustainability, etc.)


The SPD targeting in some ways mirrors the Green strategy, as they often seem to target people interested in sustainability.

For the SPD, it’s mostly about maintaining their momentum and not lose voters to their main competitors, namely the Christian Democrats and the Greens, so some of their targeting is also directed at users who have an interest in their own party and rival parties.

If you want to know more about targeting during the German 2021 election and explore the data yourself, try the interactive app. If you want to contribute data, please install Who Targets Me. And if you want to support more work like this, consider making a donation.

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