To draw attention away from Wednesday night's Democratic debate, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign bought out YouTube's "masthead," the leading advertisement on its homepage, according to a report in Vox.
It is an expensive move that cost between $500,000 and $1 million, but the homepage ad could reach more than twice as many Americans as the debate, Daniel Scarvalone, senior director of research and data at the Democratic strategy firm Bully Pulpit Interactive told Vox.
The advertisement is "one of the highest impact digital ad placements possible," he added. "We've seen it reach about 80 million Americans in a single day for buys we've done in the past," he said.
By comparison, the 2016 Republican primary debate drew 24 million views, Vox reported. The first Democratic debate is expected to attract even fewer viewers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The masthead's content changed throughout the day. In the morning, Vox said it featured two side-by-side boxes. One played a video of Trump saying that he would receive an updated list of supporters when the debates begin tonight at 9 pm, The other included a text-to-join phone number for his supporters.
In the afternoon, the video promoted Trump's policy platform for job growth, healthcare, immigration, and criminal justice reform.
Trump's advertising push on YouTube is seen as an attempt to bring the attention back to his campaign, even while he travels to Japan for the G-20 summit and follows the debate remotely.
The counter-programming plan is a shift away from the president's 2016 social media strategy, which opted for more targeted ads. In contrast, the YouTube masthead can be viewed by anyone who goes onto the video-sharing website, regardless of their demographic background or political ideology.
While Trump is using YouTube to spread his message, he said on Wednesday that its parent company Google and other tech companies should be sued, claiming anti-conservative bias.
"Twitter is just terrible, what they do. They don't let you get the word out," Trump told Fox Business Network. He added, "They're trying to rig the election. This is the greatest political disgrace in history."