The “internet’s town square” is losing some of its billboards, as half of Twitter’s top advertisers have reportedly pulled out of the social media platform after Elon Musk’s acquisition.
According to a report by Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media research organization and “misinformation monitor”, 50 of the top 100 advertisers have fled the app in the wake of the billionaire’s decision to “revamp” the site. As of Nov. 21, the brands accounted for almost “$2 billion in spending on the platform since 2020, and over $750 million in advertising in 2022 alone,” adding to a general downward shift in advertising dollars. An additional seven major brands, totaling $118 million of ad spending in 2022, have significantly slowed advertising.
The majority of brands are what the organization has labeled “quiet quitters,” pulling out or subtly reducing their ad spending without a public announcement. Others, like Chevrolet, Chipotle, Ford, Jeep, and others, have issued statements on their departure.
Big brands have been reckoning with Musk’s changes and controversial statements for weeks. Earlier this month, global corporate advertising agencies recommended that many of their largest clients pause spending for Twitter ads, including Omnicom Media (an agency representing big names like Apple, Mercedes-Benz, and McDonald’s). Other brands, like Volkswagen, General Motors, and General Mills, also suspended all Twitter ad spending. Individuals and companies alike are leaving their accounts behind, like Broadway-beloved Playbill.
In a Q&A via Twitter Spaces on Nov. 9, Musk sidestepped the concerns of wary advertisers, insisting that nothing “bad” would soil the advertisements of major brands and that advertising would have heightened relevancy to users. “We all kind of work hard to make sure that there’s not bad stuff right next to an ad,” Musk said.
That line of thinking, obviously, has not been entirely successful. And the failed rollout of Twitter’s “democratized” blue check has had an even greater impact on brand images, as impersonated accounts wreaked havoc on companies’ social media presences and stock market standings.
Musk’s stance on the new Twitter environment has been one of complaint and blame-throwing. “A large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition,” he tweeted. “They broke the deal.”