Data from social media giants reveal online advertising spending in Ballarat from candidates is remarkably low compared to heavyweights in marginal seats.
According to Meta's Ad Library report, which tracks spending on Facebook ads, Ballarat incumbent Catherine King has spent just $122 on Facebook ads since February, while Liberal Party challenger Ben Green has spent $300.
The data shows Ms King has spent $5857 on Facebook ads since August 4, 2020.
However, major parties have spent much larger sums, though this can't be narrowed down to a geographic area smaller than a state.
In Victoria, since February 13, the Australian Labor Party has spent $317,503, while the Liberal Party's Victorian division has spent $182,508.
Interestingly, Kooyong candidate Josh Frydenberg has spent $180,750, more than his rival Dr Monique Ryan at $126,951, and the Australian Electoral Commission itself at $154,045.
In nearby Wannon, incumbent Dan Tehan has spent $13,054 compared to independent Alex Dyson's campaign, at $3102.
The United Australia Party has spent $122,187 on Facebook ads in Victoria.
The federal Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment has spent slightly more than Mr Frydenberg, at $180,808.
In total, $4,204,349 has been spent on Facebook ads in Victoria alone by politicians and other organisations since February 13 - Meta, Facebook's parent company, tracks ad spending on "social issues, elections, or politics".
Google advertising is also high, with $5,415,300 spent in Victoria since November 2020, according to its Political Advertising in Australia transparency report.
"Our goal is to provide greater transparency in political advertising on Google, YouTube, and partner properties," the report states.
"This report includes information about ads that feature a political party, current elected officeholder, or candidate for the House of Representatives or Senate."
In a statement, Ms King said her advertising spend focused on local outlets.
"I know that elections aren't decided through Facebook advertising during an election campaign. Representatives have to earn the support of the community by working and supporting locals throughout the parliamentary term," she said.
"That's always been my focus.
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"Our region is lucky to have a range of local papers and community newsletters - from The Courier through to smaller papers in towns like Glenlyon, Linton, and Gordon.
"The vast bulk of my advertising spend goes to supporting those outlets, supporting those communities, and advertising my services to locals in the papers they read."
Mr Green's campaign stated they intend to spend more on social media.
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