The Trump presidential campaign spent most of its digital advertising budget on Facebook, testing more than 50,000 ad variations each day in an attempt to micro-target voters, Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale told CBS’ 60 Minutes in an interview scheduled to air on Sunday night
“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale said.
Facebook provided Trump 2016 with employees who embedded in the campaign’s digital office and helped educate staffers on how to use Facebook ads, he said. Because he “wanted people who supported Donald Trump”, he said, the Facebook employees were questioned on their political views.
The campaign then used Facebook to reach clusters of rural voters, Parscale said, such as “15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for”.
“I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling,” he said. “I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat.”
Parscale said the campaign constantly tested minute variations in the design, color, background and phrasing of Facebook ads, in order to maximize their impact. Typically 50,000 to 60,000 variations were tested each day, he said, and sometimes as many as 100,000.
In the realm of digital campaign advertising, micro-targeting of voters and constant testing of the effect of minute differences in ads are not new or innovative actions.