Half of Twitter’s top advertisers appear to be leaving the platform within a month of Musk’s acquisition, report says

The few weeks since Elon Musk took over the reins of Twitter have been filled with chaos — including one launch, take down and Restart of premium services and the undoing controversial figures. And this week, a new report shows the impact the management change could have on the social media giant’s finances.

Non-profit watchdog group Media Matters for America published a report Tuesday that concluded that Twitter has lost half of its top advertisers since Elon Musk acquired the platform in late October.

According to the report, 50 of the platform’s top 100 advertisers, who account for about $2 billion in spend since 2020, have “announced or seemingly stopped advertising in recent weeks.” These companies had brought in more than $750 million in advertising in 2022 alone, the report said, which was based on current data as of Nov. 21.

Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ford and Jeep are among the companies that issued a statement or were publicly reported to have recently discontinued their advertising on the site, the report said. Others, dubbed “silent stoppers” by Media Matters, appear to have since stopped their ads on Twitter Musk’s takeover, the report found using Pathmatics data. Those companies include AMC Networks, AT&T, BlackRock, Chanel, and Kellogg.

Not every company included in the report explicitly said they stopped or slowed down the ads because of Musk. Earlier this month, for example, a spokesperson for Kellogg’s said the company was pausing its advertising because it “continued to follow this new direction and review our marketing spend.”

Another seven companies appear to be slowing their ads on Twitter “to almost nothing,” the report said. Those companies have spent more than $255 million on the platform since 2020, and nearly $118 million since January 1.

An analysis published Tuesday by The Washington Post found that more than a third of Twitter’s top advertisers have not advertised on the platform in the past two weeks. For example, Jeep and Mars sweets have had no ads on the site since Nov. 7, according to The Post.

“Mars began suspending advertising activity on Twitter in late September when we learned of some significant brand safety and eligibility incidents impacting our brands,” Mars told The Post in a statement.

Many advertisers have expressed concern about the site’s possible new strategies for content moderation and how those policies are being implemented can affect their brand image.

Earlier this week, the CEO of a medium-sized business-to-business company wrote to the communications site Blind that they have halted their $750,000 per month Twitter ad spend for the past few weeks. The company isn’t on the list of the platform’s top advertisers, but the executive’s much-shared post says Twitter typically makes up 8-10% of their mix.

In the two weeks after Musk took control of Twitter, the executive said their ad campaign performance “dropped significantly” as engagement plummeted. They also said “serious brand safety issues” were seen as “hardcore anti-Semitism and adult spam persisted for days even when flagged”.

They didn’t blame Musk for these issues, noting that some of the issues could have been caused by a “shift in users on the platform”, but said they were issues that “really cost us money” regardless.

Musk himself has that complained of a loss of ads on the site.

On Tuesday, a Twitter user pointed to an Oct. 28 tweet in which Musk promised to create a content moderation board to discuss the reinstatement of banned accounts. “[S]spike of “entirely fictional” tweets,” the person wrote, suggesting that Musk was ignoring his promise to reinstate previously suspended users.

Musk responded by blaming activists. “A large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by depriving 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 made the launch of new “performance advertising solutions that drive results and relevance.” The launch aims to provide businesses with a stronger return on investment while delivering more “relevant advertising” to consumers, Twitter said.

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