Trump Spending With Cambridge Analytica Looks Like Peanuts Compared to Cruz

FEC Report Shows Campaign Officially Working With Ted Cruz's Former Data Firm

By Published on .

Credit: Donald J. Trump for President
Most Popular

It's official: the Donald Trump campaign is working with former Cruz camp data firm Cambridge Analytica. However, the campaign has spent a relatively meager amount with the British analytics firm compared to the money Cambridge Analytica garnered from the Ted Cruz campaign.

The campaign and its new data partner have kept mum about their relationship, though rumors have swirled for weeks about Cambridge Analytica staff being embedded with the Trump camp's San Antonio-based digital firm Giles Parscale.

The campaign's recently released Federal Election Commission report for August shows it spent just $100,000 with Cambridge last month, while Giles Parscale itself received around $8.4 million from the campaign in July. This is the first time Cambridge Analytica, which has become known for its somewhat controversial and unorthodox approach to the U.S. political business, has shown up in a Trump campaign FEC report.

In contrast with the Trump camp's spending with Cambridge Analytica, the Cruz camp dropped $5.8 million with the firm -- spending $3 million with the company as early as February.

Cambridge Analytica's signature offering, and the reason it has staffers embedded with some clients, is its tailored ad creative services that it bases on its psychographic data models. Clients such as the John Bolton PAC have used the services to target ads with nuanced messaging intended to speak to certain types of voters.

Bolton PAC video ads that ran in June to support GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, for instance, featured slightly varied language. Depending on which target group voters fell into, they saw ads stating that she will "restore order to Obama's reckless foreign policy" or "protect us from Obama's reckless foreign policy."

Whether the Trump camp intends to use Cambridge's psychographic data models in a similar manner remains to be seen. It doesn't appear to be doing so at this stage.

One of the campaign's recent digital ads pictures the real estate mogul alongside a coal miner and another props a photo of him next to an auto worker, the idea being to help maintain and grow support from blue collar workers in key states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. It's also using digital ads to push a gold Trump campaign membership card.

According to Ad Age sources familiar with the Cruz camp, some of that money went toward building a data platform that wasn't suitable for the national campaign the Cruz camp eventually wanted to run as the primaries heated up.

Additional funding paid for media buys with the firm, though it's not clear what portion went to data and analytics services versus media buys. In fact, as early as November 2015, with the Iowa caucuses less than two months away in February, the Cruz campaign decided Cambridge just wasn't well-equipped or properly staffed to handle its digital ad targeting and buying needs, so it moved that business to a more experienced Republican digital ad firm, Targeted Victory.

The Trump camp still has its data division director, Witold Chrabaszcz, on payroll. He earned $12,000 last month from the campaign, FEC data shows.

The campaign also continuing to work with Targeted Victory to handle its online merchandise sales.