Trump’s Big, Early Lead In Facebook Ads Deeply Worries Democratic Strategists

Almost every time voters who lean toward President Trump visit Facebook, they get deluged with invitations to his rallies or pleas to support his immigration policies: That’s no surprise — the platform was central to his victorious 2016 campaign.

What they probably don’t expect is that the Trump campaign also follows them to more distant corners of the internet — placing ads that supporters see on YouTube channels like Epic Wildlife, Physiques of Greatness and BroScienceLife, even the liberal site Daily Kos. The campaign’s willingness to spend money on such sites may or may not pay political dividends, but its willingness to gamble points to something bigger that unnerves the Democratic Party’s top digital thinkers.

“His campaign is testing everything,” said Shomik Dutta, a veteran of Barack Obama’s two campaigns and partner at Higher Ground Labs, an incubator for progressive political tech. “No one on the Democratic side is even coming close yet. It should be gravely concerning.”

Trump is using the advantage of incumbency, a huge pile of campaign cash and a clear path to his party’s nomination to build a digital operation unmatched by anything Democrats have. His campaign is testing all manner of iterations, algorithms and data-mining techniques — from the color of the buttons it uses on fundraising pitches to the audiences it targets with short videos of his speeches.