Trump's reliance on digital media and political novices may have helped him win

Key Points
  • A profile of Trump's digital director, Brad Parscale, by BuzzFeed shows his lack of mainstream political marketing experience may have helped give the campaign the edge they needed to win.
Brad Parscale
Getty Images

Presidential Donald Trump's success during the last election may have been aided by his reliance on outsiders to manage his digital advertising campaign.

A profile of Trump's digital media director, Brad Parscale, by BuzzFeed revealed that due to the campaign advisor basing his efforts in San Antonio, he was able to get a mix of one-third to one-half staffers with no political experience.

"That was unique," Gerrit Lansing, the Republican National Committee's chief digital officer last year, told BuzzFeed News. "A lot of times that brought a unique perspective."

For comparison, Hillary Clinton hired established advertising agencies like Droga5 and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to do some of her campaign materials.

Parscale, who founded the San Antonio-based digital advertising firm Giles-Parscale, didn't have experience with a mainstream agency. He started working with Trump in 2011 after he scored a contract with Trump International Realty, and continued working with the family on various website projects until he was tapped by the campaign.

Parscale previously admitted at a Google forum that none of the major digital ad platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google knew who he was. In the early days he didn't have data scientists and was doing a lot of "home-based" social media work. He would also stage competitions between tech companies to find the best social media ads. One staffer told BuzzFeed the campaign was run like Trump's show "The Apprentice."

Other digital marketing companies like data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica may have also had some sway on finding untapped voters for Trump. However, BuzzFeed noted several investigations have cast doubt on whether they were able to find unique information on voter personalities.

For more, read Parscale's profile on BuzzFeed.

Note: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is an investor in BuzzFeed.