Party political advertising spend rises across all three main parties

Total spending on advertising by the three main political parties rose from £9.7 million at the 2001 general election to £15 million during this year's campaign period.

Official returns to the Electoral Commission show that The Conservative Party, which spent heavily in the regional press, almost doubled its budget from £4.5 million in 2001 to £8.1 million this year.

The Liberal Democrats, who attracted rich donors ahead of the May poll, boosted their ad budget from £196,000 in 2001 to £1.6 million, a record for the party. Labour's £5.3 million spend was up slightly from £5 million four years ago.

However, the total spend was still lower than in 1997, when the Tories spent £13.1 million and Labour £7.3 million. Since then, campaign expenditure has been limited by law.

Some party officials still predict a long-term switch to direct mail.

This year saw a marked increase in the use of mailshots. The Tories spent £4.5 million (up from £1.2 million last time), Labour £2.7 million (up from £1.5 million) and the Lib Dems £1.2 million (up from £54,000).

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).