Twitter lost 50% of major advertisers after Elon Musk purchase, report says

New chief executive makes decisions that may scare off advertisers amid attempts to keep them

The Twitter logo seen outside company headquarters in San Francisco, California. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Twitter lost at least half of its major advertisers in the weeks after billionaire Elon Musk became its chief executive, representing a loss of nearly $750 million, a report has said.

“In recent weeks, 50 of the top 100 advertisers have either announced or seemingly stopped advertising on Twitter,” the report by non-profit watchdog Media Matters found.

“These advertisers have accounted for nearly $2 billion in spending on the platform since 2020, and over $750 million in advertising in 2022 alone.”

Media Matters also reported seven advertisers have been “slowing the rate of their advertising to almost nothing”, creating a potential loss of more than $11 billion.

The advertising situation at Twitter has been particularly dire since Mr Musk took over the company in late October.

Mr Musk wants to diversify Twitter's revenue stream beyond advertising, a feat none of the biggest social networks have yet to pull off.

While Twitter has been offering a paid subscription with additional features since last year, Mr Musk aimed to raise the price to $8 a month and include account verification in the plan's perks.

Celebrities who've quit Twitter following Elon Musk takeover — in pictures

His attempts to do this include a failed chaotic Twitter Blue subscription launch with paid “blue checkmarks”, which prompted the proliferation of many fake accounts and ended up angering affected companies.

Mr Musk said this week that a new verification programme will be introduced: a gold tick for companies, grey ones for elected officials and blue verified ones for other accounts. It is not yet clear how Twitter will manually verify blue tick accounts.

It appears the gold tick for companies may be an attempt to recoup advertiser trust in the Musk era of Twitter.

Twitter's revenue is 90 per cent dependent on advertising.

Advertisers, on the other hand, do not necessarily need Twitter and can turn to other social networks.

They fear being associated with toxic content, as Mr Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist”, advocates laxer moderation.

He announced on Wednesday that he will grant “amnesty” to Twitter accounts suspended before his purchase of the platform. There are concerns that the return of such accounts may reignite harassment, hate speech and misinformation.

Twitter had about 230 million daily active users as of June and Mr Musk continues to congratulate himself on growing that number since taking over — but increased users do not necessarily translate into dollars.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: November 25, 2022, 9:26 PM