Major advertisers are no longer on Twitter

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More than a third of Twitter’s top 100 marketers haven’t advertised on the social media network in the past two weeks, according to a Washington Post analysis of marketing data – an indication of the scale of the advertisers’ nervousness over billionaire Elon Musk’s control of the company.

Dozens of Twitter’s top advertisers, including 14 of the top 50, have stopped advertising in the few weeks since Musk’s chaotic acquisition of the social media company, according to The Post’s analysis of the data. from Pathmatics, which offers brand analysis on digital marketing trends.

Ads for blue-chip brands including Jeep and Mars Candy, whose parent companies were among the top 100 U.S. advertisers on the site in the six months before Musk’s purchase, haven’t appeared there for at least on November 7, according to the analysis. Musk became the owner of the site on October 27.

“Mars began suspending advertising activities on Twitter in late September when we learned of significant brand safety and suitability incidents that impacted our brand,” a statement to The Post from Mars read. , which, in addition to its namesake candies, manufactures other pet foods and products.

Pharmaceutical company Merck, cereal maker Kellogg, Verizon and brewer Samuel Adams Boston Beer have also halted advertising in recent weeks, according to data from Pathmatics. The companies did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.

Musk seeks to reassure advertisers, promises rapid changes on Twitter

Pathmatics data is generated from the collection of advertisements shown to a sample of Twitter users in the United States. The company estimated that each major marketer’s ads ran tens of millions of times a week or more during their busiest weeks on the site, with some of the advertisers’ ads running billions of times over the past six months. month before the break.

Wall Street has long viewed Twitter as a company moving too slowly to offer products that would convert its viral popularity into revenue. And while Musk struggles to cut costs and find other forms of revenue, Twitter still relies heavily on advertising. Last year, nearly 90% of the company’s $5 billion in revenue came from advertising, while the rest came from data licensing and other services, according to regulatory filings.

Meanwhile, Twitter recently laid off some employees from its sales division, continuing the company’s mass exodus of employees, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Since taking over Twitter, CEO Elon Musk has laid off thousands of people, many of whom were responsible for maintaining crucial services. Former employees fear the site will collapse. (Video: Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

Twitter is best known as a platform for large corporations to increase awareness of their businesses to a large and diverse audience through branded ad campaigns – the kind that many businesses are eager to cut back on when the economy deteriorates or that a given marketing platform no longer seems solid. investment, according to experts.

Marketers are re-evaluating Twitter during a moment of chaos as Musk makes dramatic changes to both staff and the platform. The billionaire cut about half of his workforce, then issued an ultimatum that prompted hundreds of other employees to quit, many of whom ensured the site was free of content that advertisers would rather not be associated with. In the hours after Musk took office, Twitter saw an influx of racist and anti-Semitic posts that tested the limits of Twitter’s rules under a new owner who for months had signaled he would tone down many Twitter’s content moderation practices.

Advertisers on the Run, Workers in Fear: Welcome to Elon Musk’s Twitter

Matthew Quint, director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School, said many companies are “under pressure, from a range of their stakeholders and consumers, to be connected to content seen as incendiary”. The challenge for them and for Twitter, he said, is for Musk himself to become “a very strong brand and a controversial brand.”

“The more prominent he is, the more advertisers can… choose to just say that I’m still not ready to be heavily associated with a Musk platform at this point,” Quint said.

Even before Musk took over, marketers were pulling their digital advertising as worries about the economy proliferated. The chaos on Twitter and the commercial break come at an inopportune time: the last months of the year are usually when advertisers increase their spending in an attempt to capture the holiday shopping rush and plan prime-time events listening such as the Super Bowl, according to experts. . This year, the advertising slump also hits Twitter during the World Cup, a time when advertisers might be interested in reaching an international audience; 75% of Twitter users are outside the United States.

Brand advertising is particularly vulnerable because it generally aims to develop recognition and loyalty among potential future customers. Companies have a plethora of other platforms to reach large audiences, such as TV shows, publishers and other social media companies, experts say.

In contrast, tech companies such as Facebook and Google have been known to offer marketers the ability to target their ad campaigns to a narrowly tailored section of users who are most likely to buy the product after seeing or clicking on it. ad – a phenomenon known as direct mail. marketing the answer.

Musk’s encounter with civil rights groups upsets his fans

“Twitter, for most of these brands, has never been a core part of their ad buy,” said Andrew Lipsman, an Insider Intelligence analyst who covers retail and e-commerce. “It’s a big enough channel for them to get those dollars, but it’s one of the easiest spending pools to cut out.”

Musk has had an evolving relationship with marketers and civil rights groups. At the end of last month, Musk job on Twitter a letter to advertisers swearing that the site would not become a “hellscape free for all, where anything can be said without consequences!” Amid reports that Musk froze some employees’ access to content moderation tools, civil society groups pushed Twitter’s top 20 advertisers to tell Musk they would pause their marketing campaigns if he didn’t. it undermined the community norms of the social network.

In early November, after a private meeting with civil rights groups, Musk appeared to offer an olive branch by pledging not to reinstate banned accounts without a clear process — a task he said would likely take weeks and meant former President Donald Trump would not join the site until after the midterm elections.

Two days later, Musk handed half of Twitter workers pink slips, prompting civil rights groups to launch a full boycott of the social media site. The groups argued that Twitter can’t maintain its same level of content moderation if it doesn’t have enough people to enforce its rules.

Shortly after, Musk had a private call that lasted about 90 minutes with Twitter’s Influence Council, a group of marketers, to discuss brand safety and content moderation issues, according to Lou. Paskalis, board member. During the meeting, Musk was asked about his personal tweeting habits and how they might reflect poorly on the platform, according to Paskalis.

Musk’s ‘free speech’ agenda is dismantling Twitter security work, insiders say

“What he does on his personal account is taken into account by the big advertisers who have a very big risk mitigation and governance apparatus,” Paskalis said.

A few days later, Musk held a public chat on Twitter Spaces for advertisers in which he reiterated that the company had made no changes to its content moderation policies and that the company’s new push to charge $8 users to verify would reduce the amount of hate speech on the platform. Musk put the plan on hold after some used the service to impersonate famous brands and people. He then delayed relaunching it.

After Musk took office, many advertisers flocked to Twitter’s top executives, such as Robin Wheeler, who served as Twitter’s vice president of US customer solutions, to raise concerns about what to expect. what the site would look like under Musk’s leadership, according to Paskalis.

“There are only 24 hours in the day,” Paskalis said Thursday. “And I feel like they’re working around the clock to keep their fingers in the dike.”

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Their efforts could be short-lived. On Friday, Wheeler quit the company after Musk persuaded her to stay on when she wanted to quit, according to media reports. And on Saturday, Musk restored Trump’s Twitter account, prompting a series of criticism from civil rights groups organizing to boycott advertisers.

Musk’s “decisions over the past month have been erratic and alarming, but this decision is dangerous and a threat to American democracy.” tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “We have to ask – is it time for Twitter to go?”

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