Musk Struggles to Retain Twitter Advertisers

Ad revenue projections have fallen to $1.1 billion from $1.4 billion

Elon Musk's Twitter Account

The chaos from Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has driven away advertisers as the company struggles to hang onto its most significant source of revenue.

Half of Twitter's top 100 advertisers have left the site since Musk became CEO in October. Twitter has cut its advertising revenue projection for the last three months of the year to $1.1 billion from $1.4 billion, and the number may continue to slip, according to three people with knowledge of the subject cited by the New York Times.

Key Takeaways

  • Twitter's internal ad revenue projection has fallen to $1.1 billion from $1.4 billion as Twitter struggles to retain advertisers.
  • Twitter CEO Elon Musk met Apple CEO Tim Cook on concern Apple would pull its advertisements from the site.
  • Twitter has lost half of its 100 top advertisers since Musk took over the company.

“We’ve done our absolute best to appease them, and nothing is working,” Musk said at an investment conference in New York last month.

General Motors Company, Pfizer Inc., Ford Motor Company and AMC Networks Inc. are among the more than 1,000 advertisers that have left the site since Musk agreed to buy the company in May. Advertisements account for more than 90% of Twitter's revenue, and Musk is experimenting with a variety of strategies to keep advertisers on the site.

So far, Musk has threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” for brands who stopped advertising on Twitter.

Last week, Musk tweeted a string of attacks aimed at Twitter’s top advertiser, Apple Inc., and its CEO, Tim Cook. Apple temporarily paused its advertisements after the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, a common practice for major brands after major tragedies.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter,” Musk tweeted. “Do they hate free speech in America?”

Apple resumed advertising after Musk met with Cook, Musk said. Apple doesn't advertise on Instagram or Facebook, and in 2022 it committed more than $150 million to Twitter advertisements.

When threats haven't worked, Musk has begun to try and win back advertisers with incentives. Twitter is offering generous deals for advertisers that reach certain spending limits. Some brands are being allowed to commit to just large events, such as the Super Bowl, with heavy discounts or clauses allowing them to back out.

Still, the uncertainty since Musk's acquisition continues to cost advertisers. Among the mass layoffs and resignations were the exits of two of the top employees responsible for maintaining good relationships with advertiser. The head of Ad Operations in Britain left last month as well.

Advertisers have also complained about Twitter's new paid verifications, which can enable random users to successfully impersonate companies.

Automotive brands in particular have been worried about whether data shared with Twitter will also be given to Musk’s other companies. G.M. was the first company to publicly say it would pause its advertisements on Twitter, asking for assurances that Tesla would not see their data.

“It’s important for us to ensure our advertising strategies and data can be safely managed by a platform owned by a competitor,” a G.M. spokesman said in a statement.

Article Sources
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  1. CBS News. "Half of Twitter's top advertisers appear to leave platform within a month of Musk's takeover, report says."

  2. The Wall Street Journal. "Elon Musk Says Twitter Has Had Massive Revenue Drop as Layoffs Begin."

  3. The New York Times. "Twitter Keeps Missing Its Advertising Targets as Woes Mount."

  4. Twitter, "Elon Musk. November 4, 2022."

  5. Twitter. "Elon Musk. November 28, 2022."

  6. Bloomberg. "Elon Musk Says Apple is 'Fully' Advertising on Twitter Again."

  7. Marketing Brew. "Twitter is matching ad spend to boost revenue."

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