Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Donald Trump to congratulate him in the days following the Republican presidential candidate’s victory over Hillary Clinton, sources told Buzzfeed News.
During his call to the then president-elect, Zuckerberg congratulated the Trump team on a successful campaign, Buzzfeed reported. The Trump campaign spent millions in advertising revenue on Facebook.
At least three people familiar with the conversation told Buzzfeed that the private call is just one in several endorsements from Facebook of the campaign’s advertising efforts. Facebook declined to comment and the White House press office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
In interviews with former Facebook employees and Trump campaign staffers. Buzzfeed obtained memos and other company presentations that showed Facebook viewed Trump’s campaign as an “innovator” of a fast-moving marketing strategy on their social media advertising platform and used it to refine a marketing model called “Test, Learn, Adapt” (TLA).
Facebook subsequently used TLA to test ads on their News Feed as part of their Here Now campsign, according to a company spokesperson. Facebook users can now see ads such as “Clickbait is not your friend” or “Data misuse is not your friend” when they open the app or website.
A Bloomberg report shows that Hillary Clinton spent $28 million from June to November 2016 to test 66,000 different ads, while Trump spent $44 million during that same time phase, testing 5.9 million ads.
“Both campaigns spent heavily on Facebook between June and November of 2016, but Trump’s FB campaigns were more complex than Clinton’s and better leveraged Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes," an internal Facebook whitepaper said.
“I believe Facebook was a great platform for the president," Trump’s 2016 campaign digital director Brad Parscale, who is also Trump's 2020 campaign manager, told BuzzFeed News. "I'm completely disappointed that Facebook won't step up and announce to the world how well we used the platform and that we changed the way Facebook advertising will work in the future."
Gary Coby, Trump’s 2016 campaign director for digital advertising, told Buzzfeed that Facebook “loved us during the campaign.”
“Their team was heavily involved because it was a great learning experience and Hillary's team was not doing much,” he said. “They should have been out celebrating our work like they did with Bernie and Obama,, They gave us the same tools, but we took it to another level and showed them how to use their own platform in a way commercial and political marketers haven’t seen before.”