One of the biggest worries that Elon Musk had when he took over Twitter was that advertisers and brands would leave the platform and stop spending on ads. It turns out, Musk’s fears were well-founded. A recent report from The Washington Post suggests that over a third of Twitter’s top 100 ad clients have not advertised on the platform over the last two weeks.
Many of Twitter’s top advertisers, including 14 of the top 50, have stopped ad spending in the few weeks since Musk’s acquisition. Ads for brands including Jeep and Mars chocolates, whose corporate parents were among the top 100 US advertisers on the platform in the six months before Musk’s purchase, haven’t been since November 7, just weeks after Musk assumed ownership of the platform on October 27.
Pharmaceutical company Merck, cereal maker Kellogg, Verizon, and Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer have also stopped their advertising recently, the report said.
Twitter is still heavily reliant on advertising. Last year, nearly 90 percent of the company’s $5 billion in revenue came from advertising, while the rest was derived from data licensing and other services.
One of the biggest reasons advertisers have pulled out of Twitter is the attrition of employees at Twitter. More than the number of people who have been terminated or resigned, it is the departure of certain key personnel that has scared advertisers and brands. Although Twitter has many policies in place to counter hate speech, advertisers feared that the departure of many vital enforcers and content moderators would mean that such policies would mean nothing.
There is also the fact that racial slur usage increased exponentially after Musk took control of Twitter. Musk and his team have been able to curtail it and bring hate speech down on Twitter to an all-time low should give advertisers some confidence.
Then there was the surge in impersonation or fake verified accounts, which took place because of Musk’s idea of paid verification or buying a verified badge for $8. The plan backfired so severely that Musk had to suspend it just days after rolling it out. Musk has since gone on to say that they will not be relaunching the paid verification or Twitter Blue for $8 program until they have a way of dealing with the impersonation of organizations and key individuals.
Besides Twitter’s internal turmoil that stemmed from the terminations and resignation of people and the paid verification, there is also the fact that the world is on the brink of a recession. Even before Musk took over, marketers were pulling back on digital advertising as worries about the economy proliferated.