Feb 27, 2018 - Technology

Facebook: Trump paid higher ad rates than Clinton during campaign

Facebook is pushing back on a claim that was quoted by Hillary Clinton on Twitter that her presidential campaign was systematically charged more than twice that of the Trump's presidential campaign for advertising rates on Facebook. The company supplied data Tuesday showing that during the general election period, the Trump campaign paid slightly higher rates on most days rather than lower as has been reported.

Why it matters: Advertising prices for programmatic advertising (advertising that is sold through a pricing auction automatically) depend on a campaign's objectives, like targeting, audience size and type of ad used. The Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign clearly used different advertising tactics on Facebook's platform, resulting in different average rates.

Our thought bubble: Facebook makes money from advocacy and political advertising on both sides of the aisle. It is not in the company's best interest to discriminate against certain advertisers, regardless of their point of view.

The conversation around ad rates began when Trump's digital strategist, Brad Parscale — who has been tapped to be Trump's 2020 campaign manager — claimed on Twitter that he bet the Clinton campaign paid significantly less for their ads, given how cheap the Trump campaign's ads were on Facebook.

  • The Trump campaign used Facebook mostly to drive direct-response fundraising efforts, while the Clinton campaign used Facebook mostly to drive persuasion messaging.

Fact check: There isn't a pricing weight difference in direct response advertising versus persuasion advertising, or other types of cause and appeal advertising on Facebook.

Bottom line: These opposing tactics are what likely caused the rate discrepancy, not any bias towards candidates' campaigns by Facebook.

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