The billionaire failed to reconcile the two tensions he faced, namely ensuring full freedom of expression and reassuring advertisers about the wisdom of continuing to advertise on Twitter when the platform was facing an upsurge in hateful content .
As a direct result of this failure, several major advertisers have declared that they will pause their advertising campaigns on Twitter. These include Audi, General Mills, General Motors, Mondelez, Pfizer, United Airlines and Volkswagen. L'Oreal, the brand that the Financial Times reported had halted advertising, has since denied this.
However, it is likely that other brands will soon follow suit, particularly in the wake of the mass layoffs and the pressure campaign led by forty civil society groups including the NAACP, Friends of the Earth and the Center for American Progress. Musk's response was questionable, to say the least, ranging from panic to threats to publicly humiliate brands leaving the platform.
The reality is that Twitter ads have always been the poor relation of advertising formats on social networks. Elon Musk himself acknowledged in a recent Twitter thread that the targeting and ROI measurement features pale in comparison to those of his competitors. As the economy contracts, it seems natural for marketing decision-makers to cut Twitter advertising investments first.
It will therefore be necessary, in order to bring brands back, to quickly deliver real improvements on these ad formats to increase engagement and better prove the ROI of campaigns. This is likely to involve the development of new consumer features, such as the TikTok, Reel Instagram and Shorts formats on YouTube. Twitter, with its audience of wealthy executives, influencers, journalists and politicians, has an interesting potential for business and even more so for opinion. A manna that the platform, with its imprecise targeting algorithms, has never managed to make the most of with advertisers.
In the meantime, advertisers whose product or service is particularly relevant to a mobile audience, with 85% of Twitter sessions taking place on mobile, will have the opportunity to see their visibility increased tenfold in the face of the upcoming advertising desert. For other brands, those whose ROI is not obvious and who are particularly sensitive to the reputational risk of advertising on a platform where verbal violence and fake news are unbridled, it's time to put an end to Twitter advertising and reinvest in other more promising channels such as media partnerships, newsletters and podcasts, or even public relations and influencer marketing.