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Advertisers are dropping Twitter. Musk cannot afford to lose any more.


More than a third of Twitter’s top 100 marketers have not advertised on the social media network in the past two weeks, an analysis of marketing data from the Washington Post found – an indication of the level of advertisers’ trepidation about billionaire Elon Musk’s scrutiny about the company.

Dozens of top Twitter advertisers, including 14 of the top 50, have stopped advertising in the few weeks since Musk’s chaotic takeover of the social media company, according to The Post’s analysis of data from Pathmatics, which offers brand analytics 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, have not appeared there since at least Nov. the analysis. Musk took over ownership of the site on October 27.

“Mars began suspending advertising activity on Twitter in late September when we learned of some significant brand safety and eligibility incidents impacting our brand,” said a statement to The Post from Mars, which said that in addition to its eponymous candy, other foods and pet products.

Pharmaceutical company Merck, grain producer Kellogg, Verizon and Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer have also stopped advertising in recent weeks, the Pathmatics data shows. The companies did not respond to requests for comment from The Post.

Pathmatics data is generated by collecting the ads shown to a sample of Twitter users in the United States. The company estimated that each top marketer’s ads were shown tens of millions of times per week or more during the site’s busiest weeks, with some advertisers’ ads showing billions of times in the six months leading up to the hiatus.

Wall Street has long viewed Twitter as too slow to launch products that would turn its viral popularity into revenue. And while Musk tries to cut costs and find alternative forms of revenue, Twitter still relies heavily on advertising. Last year, nearly 90 percent of the company’s $5 billion in revenue came from advertising, with the rest coming from data licensing and other services, according to regulatory records.

Meanwhile, Twitter recently laid off some employees in its sales department, continuing the mass exodus of employees at the company, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Twitter is best known as a platform for large companies to raise awareness of their companies with a large and diverse audience through brand advertising campaigns – the kind that many companies are eager to scrap when the economy sours or a particular marketing platform no longer seems solid investment, say experts.

Marketers reevaluate Twitter during a moment of chaos as Musk makes sweeping changes to both the staff and the platform. The billionaire cut about half of the workforce, then issued an ultimatum that prompted hundreds of other employees to quit, many of them making sure the site was free of content advertisers would rather not be associated with. In the hours after Musk took over, Twitter experienced an influx of racist and anti-Semitic messages that tested the limits of Twitter’s rules under a new owner who had indicated for months that he would reverse many of Twitter’s content moderation practices.

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 that is perceived as inflammatory.” The challenge for them and for Twitter, he said, is that Musk is becoming “a very strong brand itself and a controversial brand.”

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

Even before Musk took over, marketers withdrew their digital ads as concerns about the economy mounted. The chaos on Twitter and the ad break comes at an inconvenient time: The final months of the year are generally when advertisers are ramping up spending in an effort to capture the Christmas rush, as well as planning primetime events like the Super Bowl, experts say. This year, the drop in advertising also hits Twitter during the World Cup, a time when advertisers may be interested in reaching an international audience; 75 percent of Twitter users are outside the United States.

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

In contrast, tech companies like Facebook and Google are known for giving marketers the ability to target their ad campaigns to a narrowly targeted segment of users who are most likely to buy the product after seeing or clicking on the ad — a phenomenon known as direct response marketing.

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

Musk has had an evolving relationship with marketers and the civil rights groups from the start. Late last month, Musk posted a letter to advertisers on Twitter vowing that Twitter would not become a “free-for-all hellscape” where anything can be said without consequence! When reports surfaced that Musk had blocked some employees’ access to content moderation tools, social groups urged Twitter’s top 20 advertisers to tell Musk they would suspend their marketing campaigns if he violated social media community standards. network would undermine.

In early November, after a private meeting with civil rights groups, Musk appeared to be offering 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 won’t do it again. join the site for the midterm elections.

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

Soon after, Musk was in a private conversation lasting about 90 minutes with Twitter’s influence council, a group of marketers, to discuss brand safety and content moderation issues, said Lou Paskalis, a member of the council. During the meeting, Musk was questioned about his personal tweeting habits and how, according to Paskalis, they could be poorly reflected on the platform.

“What he personally does is being considered by large advertisers who have very high risk mitigation and government apparatus to consider,” Paskalis said.

A few days later, Musk held a public Twitter space chat for advertisers in which he reiterated that the company had made no changes to its content moderation policies and that the company’s new attempt to charge users $8 for verification, the number of hate speech on the platform. The plan was later delayed after some used the service to impersonate brands and famous people.

After Musk took over, many advertisers flocked to Twitter’s top executives, such as Robin Wheeler, who served as vice president of US Twitter client solutions, to convey their concerns about what Twitter would look like under Musk’s leadership, according to Paskalis .

“There are only 24 hours in a day,” Paskalis said on Thursday. “And I have the feeling that they are working around the clock to keep their fingers in the ditch.”

Their efforts may be short-lived. On Friday, Wheeler left the company after Musk previously persuaded her to stay when she wanted to step down, media reports said. And on Saturday, Musk restored former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, sparking criticism from civil rights groups that staged an advertiser boycott.

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

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