Will Twitter’s Free Ads Lure Back Past Advertisers?

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 17, 2023

Advertisements are a major source of income for social media platforms, including Twitter, which has earned billions from its ads since 2020. However, since Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform, things have changed, and the platform is desperate enough to offer free ads to lure brands back. The question is, what else have they done, and will any of it work?

Free ads might be Twitter’s last chance. Emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal revealed that Twitter has offered to match ad spend up to $250,000 on the platform. There are conditions, including that the ads must run by February 28th, but it shows how badly the company is hurting as it tries to pull advertisers back in.

But that is not all it has been doing to hook advertisers. The platform has made a few changes regarding advertising as it struggles to break even, much less turn a profit. That includes improving controls and opening up to political ads.

Twitter is desperate as advertisers flee. Elon Musk’s takeover has been anything but quiet, and many of his actions have caused brands to put some distance between themselves and the platform. Because of that, it was reported back in November that half of the platform’s top 100 advertisers were no longer advertising on Twitter.

  • The 50 advertisers represented around $2 billion in Twitter ads since 2020, with over $750 million flowing into the social media platform in 2022 alone.
  • Other advertisers slowed their marketing efforts on the platform to a trickle, causing hundreds of millions more in ads to disappear.

However, Musk’s response to the loss of advertisers was to maintain the status quo, which has been described as “unsafe actions — including amplifying conspiracy theories, unilaterally reinstating banned accounts such as that of former President Donald Trump, courting and engaging with far-right accounts, and instituting a haphazard verification scheme that allowed extremists and scammers to purchase a blue check.”

But not all is lost. In fact, some business owners see this new era of Twitter as big potential in the long run. Rudy Mawer, CEO of Mawer Capital, says “If you look at what’s going on with Twitter right now, there’s a lot of short-term hiccups. We know Twitter has a large following and we also know that they’ve never been able to figure out their advertising platform – therefore their full potential has never been realized. So if you’re a business and you’ve declared that you’re never advertising on Twitter because of their short-term issues, then you could be missing out on millions in revenue in the future. And because they want money flowing into their business, they’re going to do whatever they can to make their ad platform as friendly to businesses as possible.” 

Twitter improved ad placement controls. One of the steps Twitter took in an attempt to reassure advertisers was improving the controls available. For instance, allowing them to pick out keywords and avoid their promotions from appearing with Tweets including those keywords.

The platform also announced an expansion of its partnerships with brand safety partners DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science. The point of the partnerships is to provide independent validation as Twitter looks to uphold the GARM Brand Safety Floor, preventing unsafe ad placements.

Elon relaxed bans on political ads. Cause-based advertising has been banned on Twitter for quite some time, but Twitter announced that political ads would once again be permitted. According to the platform, the decision was made to “facilitate public conversation around important topics.”

  • Various forms of political advertising were banned on Twitter in 2019, with the argument that political influence should be earned, not bought.
  • The change in policy will allow advocacy groups and political candidates to promote specific causes.

The decision to ban such ads caused an outcry at the time, but while there might be other reasons behind the action, it will no doubt help the platform bring advertisers to the platform.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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