Almost exactly three years before Elon Musk finalized his purchase of Twitter this week, he tweeted his thoughts on the platform’s primary financial engine: “I hate advertising.”
On Thursday, Mr. Musk extended a truce of sorts to Twitter’s advertisers, saying in a tweet that he aims to make Twitter “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”
He sought to ease Madison Avenue’s fears about brand safety that their ads could appear next to distasteful content and be soiled by association by stressing that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”
Without making any promises about content moderation, which many advertising trade groups have encouraged in recent years, Mr. Musk promised a platform that followed government regulations and was “warm and welcoming to all.”
Advertisers: Run, don't walk?
If it’s the ‘free-speech absolutist,’ Musk & Twitter are big trouble. If Twitter becomes the go-to platform for the knucklehead brigade, advertisers will run, not walk. While many companies felt that they had to advertise on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, few felt the same for Twitter.
Many advertisers said they would consider moving their business elsewhere if Musk’s permissive attitude toward free speech risked putting their campaigns in proximity to hate speech and conspiracy theories.
The current attitude is more or less just wait and watch at this moment. Advertisers still share the same concerns around content moderation that existed before, and, given the economic environment right now, any missteps and there will be quick reactions.
90% of revenue comes from ads...
Twitter’s advertising sales, which make up more than 90 percent of its total revenue, have been on the upswing, totaling $2.18 billion in the first half of the year (revenue sources like subscriptions have been declining). The top five advertisers this year on the platform HBO, Mondelez, Amazon, IBM and PepsiCo, spent more than $155 million through this week.
GM has “temporarily paused” paid advertising on Twitter post-Elon Musk takeover.
Twitter’s ad leaders and its new owner Elon Musk are meeting with agencies and brands to try to attempt to smooth over any uncertainty about the future of the service, as some advertisers start to back away from the platform.