Brad Parscale was the Trump campaign’s digital director and his San Antonio company was its highest-paid vendor. Giles-Parscale drew nearly $88 million for about 18 months of work, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures, on top of an additional $4 million since Election Day, which included millions paid to Facebook and other social-media companies. As digital director, Mr. Parscale was responsible for creating and placing ads on social-media platforms such as Facebook, developing the campaign’s website and driving online fundraising efforts.
…Mr. Parscale’s work was prolific. The campaign tested 40,000 to 60,000 Facebook ads every day, according to a person familiar with the spending. A senior GOP campaign aide said the team would start each day with 70 ads in each target state, such as Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and buy new ads every five minutes, based on what was successful on a range of metrics. Peak days reached nearly 200,000 unique ad combinations, the person said.
The extent of the Trump digital operation’s activity was largely unreported because there are no federal disclosure requirements for online ads. Unlike when they air television and radio ads, campaigns running online ads aren’t required to disclose how much they paid for the ads, whom they paid and where the ads would run. [emphasis: mine]
…The House panel also has contacted Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company paid $5 million by the Trump campaign last year that worked together with Mr. Parscale’s firm, for information related to the Russia probe, a Cambridge Analytica spokesman said.
While broadcast stations are required to disclose to the Federal Communications Commission how much they earn from political campaigns and groups and where those dollars are directed, social-media companies don’t have to disclose what share of their advertising revenue comes from political ads. [again, emphasis: mine]
…Every vendor that worked with Mr. Parscale on the campaign signed a nondisclosure agreement, according to the person familiar with the spending, and didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The Trump ads Mr. Parscale purchased on Facebook were largely focused on fundraising, showing users images of Mr. Trump or his family while asking them to donate, said the person. Images and videos of Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, were targeted to mothers. Some contained cartoons attacking Hillary Clinton as corrupt. The campaign also used Facebook to draw large crowds to Mr. Trump’s campaign rallies, the person said.
Images and videos were tested in battleground locations, comparing results by gender and in rural areas and urban areas using a range of metrics. If small ad buys on certain targets performed well, the campaign purchased more, the person said.