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One-third Of Top 100 Twitter Advertisers Pause Advertising: The Washington Post Report

50 of the top 100 advertisers have either announced that they will discontinue advertising or “seemingly stopped” advertising on Twitter

An analysis by The Washington Post shows that a third of Twitter’s top 100 marketers have not advertised on the social media network in the past two weeks. Moreover, 14 of the top 50 advertisers stopped a few weeks after billionaire Elon Musk acquired Twitter, according to Post’s analysis.

Another analysis by Media Matters found that 50 of the top 100 advertisers have either announced that they will discontinue advertising or “seemingly stopped” advertising on Twitter. These advertisers had spent $2 billion on the platform since 2020, and over $750 million in 2022 alone, Media Matters said.

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Why it matters? Earlier, several civil rights organisations issued an open letter asking Twitter’s top 20 advertisers to stop advertising on Twitter. The letter said, “If Elon Musk follows through with just a fraction of what he has already committed to doing, then Twitter will not and can not be a safe platform for brands. Urgent action is needed by advertisers”. The letter also said, “Within 24 hours of Musk taking ownership, the platform was inundated with hate and disinformation. Not only are extremists celebrating Musk’s takeover of Twitter, they are seeing it as a new opportunity to post the most abusive, harassing, and racist language and imagery. This includes clear threats of violence against people with whom they disagree”.

What’s the difference between the two analyses? 

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  • The Washington Post only looked at the last two weeks’ data to ascertain the advertisers who have stopped advertising.
  • Media Matters does not clearly mention how many weeks of data it is considering to determine if advertisers have stopped advertising. Moreover, it also takes into account the advertisers who have officially said they will stop advertising but may be running ads for now.

Where did the Washington Post and Media Matters get this data from?

  • They used Pathmatics, which is an advertising tool that offers ‘intelligent’ marketing analytics.
  • This data is generated from collecting the ads shown to a sample of Twitter users in the United States.

What else did The Washington Post’s analysis find? 

  • Ads by corporate parents of automobile brand Jeep and chocolate brand Mars candy have not appeared on Twitter at least since November 7. Musk closed the deal with Twitter on October 27. The two brands were among the top 100 Twitter advertisers 6 months before Musk took over Twitter.
  • “Mars started suspending advertising activities on Twitter in late September when we learned of some significant brand safety and suitability incidents that impacted our brand,” Mars said to The Washington Post.
  • Other companies that have stopped advertising in recent weeks: Pharmaceutical company Merck, cereal maker The Kellogg Company, Verizon and Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer.
  • Before Musk’s takeover, Pathmatics estimated that ads by each of the top marketers were shown tens of million times per week or more. Some of the ads by these advertisers were shown billions of times over the six months before the pause.

What else did Media Matters’s analysis find? 

  • It released a list of all advertisers among the top 100 advertisers who paused Twitter advertising and classified them into two parts. One, where companies quietly stopped advertising and, two, when they issued an official announcement to indicate they’ll stop advertising.
  • Popular companies that stopped advertising quietly: BlackRock, Inc., AT&T, American Express Company, Chanel, CNN, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), LinkedIn, Nestle, and Verizon.
  • Popular companies that stopped advertising after issuing a statement: Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ford, Jeep.
  • Read the full list here.

Why are brands pausing advertising on Twitter? 

Twitter has been in the middle of controversies ever since Elon Musk took over, the most disputed one was perhaps the introduction of an additional verification badge which can be bought for a price ($8 in the US). Several fake accounts of popular brands including SpaceX and Apple sprung up on the platform with an ‘official’ badge on them. Why is this harmful to brands? Here’s an example: Lockheed Martin’s stock plummeted by 5% (which is a lot and amounts to billions of dollars) likely due to a tweet by an impersonated Lockheed Martin Twitter account with the verified badge that said, “We will begin halting weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States until further investigation…”

Although most brands have not stated their particular reason for pausing Twitter advertising, some have said they are worried about “brand safety”. Top American advertising firm Omnicom which has clients like Apple, McDonalds, PepsiCo is recommending clients pause spending on Twitter, The Verge reported. An internal memo sent by Omnicom to its clients was accessed by The Verge, it read—there’s “evidence that the risk to our client’s brand safety has risen sharply to a level most would find unacceptable”.

This post is released under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. Please feel free to republish on your site, with attribution and a link. Adaptation and rewriting, though allowed, should be true to the original.

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Written By

I cover privacy, surveillance and tech policy. In my reporting, I try my best to present the most relevant facts, and sometimes add in a pinch of my thoughts.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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