Half of Twitter's top advertisers left since Musk takeover, report says

The few weeks since Elon Musk took the reins of Twitter have been filled with chaos – including a launch, takedown and relaunch of premium services as well as the unbanning of controversial figures. And this week, a new report showcases the impact the management change may be having on the social media giant's finances.

Nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America published a report on Tuesday concluding that Twitter has lost half of its top advertisers since Elon Musk acquired the platform at the end of October.

According to the report, 50 of the platform's top 100 advertisers, which have accounted for about $2 billion in spending since 2020, "have either announced or seemingly stopped advertising" in recent weeks. These companies had brought in over $750 million in advertising just in 2022, said the report, which relied on data current as of November 21.

Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ford and Jeep are among the companies that have either issued a statement or have been publicly reported as recently stopping their advertising on the site, the report said. Others, which Media Matters dubbed "quiet quitters," have seemingly stopped their advertisements on Twitter since Musk's takeover, the report found using Pathmatics data. Those companies include AMC Networks, AT&T, BlackRock, Chanel and Kellogg, among others.

Not every company included in the report has explicitly said that they have stopped or slowed advertisement because of Musk. Earlier this month, for example, a Kellogg's spokesperson said that the company was pausing its ads as it continued "to monitor this new direction and evaluate our marketing spend."

Another seven companies seem to be slowing their advertising on Twitter "to almost nothing," the report stated. Those companies spent more than $255 million on the platform since 2020 and nearly $118 million since January 1.

An analysis by The Washington Post published on Tuesday found that more than a third of Twitter's top advertisers have not advertised on the platform in the past two weeks. Jeep and Mars candy, for example, have not had any advertisements on the site since November 7, The Post said.

"Mars started suspending advertising activities on Twitter in late September when we learned of some significant brand safety and suitability incidents that impacted our brands," Mars told The Post in a statement.

Many advertisers have expressed concern over the site's potential new strategies for moderating content and how those policies could affect their brand image.

Earlier this week, the director of a medium-sized business-to-business company wrote on the communication site Blind that they paused their $750,000 a month Twitter ad spending in recent weeks. The company is not among those listed on the platform's top advertisers, but the director's widely shared post said that Twitter typically makes up about 8 to 10% of their mix.

In the two weeks after Musk took control of Twitter, the director said that their ad campaign performance "fell significantly" as engagement had a steep decline. They also said that "serious brand safety issues" were seen as "hardcore antisemitism and adult spam remained up for days even when flagged."

They did not blame Musk for these issues, noting that some of the problems could have been caused by a "shift in users on the platform," but said that regardless, they were issues that "cost us real money."

Musk himself has complained of a loss of advertising on the site.

On Tuesday, a Twitter user pointed to an October 28 tweet in which Musk promised to create a content moderation council to discuss reinstating banned accounts. "[S]peaking of 'completely fictional' tweets," the person wrote, implying that Musk ignored his promise in reinstating formerly suspended users.

Musk responded by blaming activists. "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."

"They broke the deal," he said.

A day after Media Matters published their report, Twitter also announced the launch of new "performance advertising solutions that drive results and relevance." The launch is intended to provide a stronger investment return for companies while providing more "relevant ads" for consumers, Twitter said.

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