By Jonathan Vanian
February 27, 2018

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign paid slightly more for ads on Facebook than Hillary Clinton, the social network said, refuting claims that it had tacitly helped get the Republican elected.

Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said Tuesday on Twitter that Trump’s campaign “paid slightly higher CPM prices on most days rather than lower as has been reported,” using industry jargon for cost per thousand impressions, the metric used to measure online ad rates.

Bosworth, who oversaw Facebook’s ad business during the most recent presidential election, also shared a chart comparing each campaign’s online ad rates that appears to show the Trump campaign generally paying more for the same number of ads.

Bosworth’s statement is aimed at countering recent media reports and claims by Brad Parscale, President Trump’s newly appointed 2020 presidential campaign manager. Parscale, who ran the digital operations for Trump’s campaign, previously boasted that the Trump campaign “had CPMs that were pennies in some cases.”

Parscale also promoted on Twitter a Wired article written by a former Facebook project manager Antonio García Martínez that suggested Trump’s presidential campaign was able to get better deals on online ads.

From the Wired article:

During the run-up to the election, the Trump and Clinton campaigns bid ruthlessly for the same online real estate in front of the same swing-state voters. But because Trump used provocative content to stoke social media buzz, and he was better able to drive likes, comments, and shares than Clinton, his bids received a boost from Facebook’s click model, effectively winning him more media for less money. In essence, Clinton was paying Manhattan prices for the square footage on your smartphone’s screen, while Trump was paying Detroit prices.

The implication that the Trump campaign was able to game Facebook’s (fb) advertising system and score better deals led Clinton to criticize “social media platforms” and how they can influence “our democratic process.”

Bosworth also said in another Tweet that the prices for online ads can fluctuate depending on “size of audience and campaign objective,” and that the two different presidential campaigns “had different strategies.” Because of this, it’s hard to make a direct comparison of how much each campaign paid Facebook for ads.

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“We want to share more campaign data with researchers, but we’ll need campaigns’ permission,” Bosworth added in another tweet. “We are reaching out now. We’ll be making data like this plus more available to the public when we launch our ads transparency tool in spring.”

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