Whisper it: some advertisers still like Elon Musk’s Twitter

Twitter is an anathema to a lot of advertisers right now — but not all of them.

Amazon, Apple, BSkyB are among the few continuing to advertise on the social network despite the perceived risk of doing so.

Advertising there could have significant blowback on a brand now that Elon Musk is in charge. The billionaire, a self-described “free speech absolutist”, has reinstated banned accounts and dropped at least one misinformation policy since he took over a few weeks ago.

Musk put a lot of marketers on edge, but for some of them the rewards of advertising on Twitter outweigh the risks. And it’s not too hard to see why. Despite all that ails the social network now, ad dollars flow where the audience goes. The latest ad spending data on Twitter has made this all too clear.

Data collated by Pathmatics showed that the week of Musk’s takeover saw a total of $35.37 million in ad spend, which increased the week after to $35.45 million and has continued to hover between $35.7 million to $35.9 million per week ever since. So while Twitter’s ads business continues to hemorrhage dollars, it’s not out for the count just yet.

“Advertisers are returning or maintaining their advertising on Twitter because the platform offers unique advantages and opportunities to reach target audiences,” said Samuel McGraw, CEO of creative agency Design Hub. “Although Twitter has recently been embroiled in a series of controversies, it is still a powerful platform that offers marketers a lot of potential.”

Take Apple, for example. While the advertiser spent on average $228,642 per week on Twitter prior to Musk’s takeover, this figure has slightly increased by 0.20% to $229,100 post acquisition, per Pathmatics.

And while Amazon’s average weekly spend pre-deal was around $1.4 million, the advertiser has still committed $698,325 since the takeover. Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer even tweeted that Amazon plans to spend about $100 million a year on the platform, pending some security tweaks to Twitter’s ad platform. 

“When we look at performance, or reaching the right audience and the way that engagement is occurring on the platform both from a user side and from an advertiser side from what we see with our clients — there hasn’t really been a shift or change,” said Kaela Green, vp of paid social at Basis Technologies, an ad tech platform that has maintained spending for some of its clients throughout the turbulence.

To be clear, none of this signals any real reversal on the exodus of ad dollars that has knocked Twitter’s ads business sideways. ​​Advertisers aren’t returning to the beleaguered app in any great number. Otherwise, Twitter execs wouldn’t be offering advertisers incentives like discounts for first-time advertisers, free analytics, and access to exclusive ad formats.

But the influx of some ad dollars does show that not every marketer sees the furore around the social network as a big risk to their brands. On the contrary, they see a few silver linings to the clouds that have settled over Twitter in recent weeks. 

“Twitter is working on slowing down product rollouts and combating the parody accounts that have popped up over the last few weeks,” said Diana Lee, CEO of mar tech firm Constellation. “Additionally, they are starting to take misinformation more seriously — as most recently seen by Ye’s removal from the platform due to his antisemitic comments.”

The reality is that the audiences most important to advertisers like Apple and Amazon can still be found on Twitter. Keep in mind how crucial it is for brands with that level of popularity to maintain and amplify positive brand messages knowing they cannot always control the public, organic conversation on the platform. Add in the aforementioned incentives on top of all of that and it’s not hard to see why some marketers might think twice about whether they stick or twist with Twitter.

So what exactly are those rewards?

Twitter is now offering decent incentives to advertisers in a bid to either keep or attract their custom.

McGraw was forwarded a Twitter email from a client, detailing the incentives. It stated that for advertisers who spend at least $500K on the platform, Twitter will match those funds up to $1 million. Advertisers who spend $350K will receive an additional 50% of the total cost in impressions, while those who spend $200K will receive an extra 25% of the total cost in impressions from Twitter.

Additionally, McGraw highlighted that the free analytics being offered as part of these incentives include Twitter’s Ads Insights, which provides advertisers with data into key performance metrics such as ad impressions, clicks and engagement. 

“Twitter is also offering access to its Twitter Ads API, which allows for more advanced ad targeting options, such as keyword and user segmentation,” McGraw added. “I have heard whispers of ad format variables but have yet to see any new offerings for myself or my clients.”

Exceptions that prove the rule

All this talk of advertising on Twitter goes against the current mood in marketing circles — where marketers seem loath to advertise on a platform that many believe is not a safe place for their brands to appear.

“We continue to advise our clients to stay away from Twitter because Elon’s behavior is unpredictable,” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of marketing strategy agency Verasoni. “Brands would be wise not to engage in drama that may cause trauma to their brands or consumers. It’s hard to counsel clients to invest in the platform and potentially be sideswiped at 3 AM, then pull ads and adjust. No need to take that risk when there are plenty of outlets for brands to engage consumers, Twitter is just one.”

To some extent, the brand safety risks are not unlike the perceived safety risks on the New York City subways.

“Subway crime is just 2.6 percent of NYC crime overall, but you would never know it from the media,” said Doron Gerstel, CEO of ad tech company Perion. “In the same way, the media amplifies the risks of misinformation, but it is still a tiny fraction of overall content. It just has an outsize effect.”

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