The person or the platform
Brands are being asked to support the platform without dwelling on Musk’s personal crusades in his Twitter feed. “The risk has moved from the platform to the person,” said Lou Paskalis, newly appointed chief strategy officer at Ad Fontes Media, a media watchdog group. “And, so, it’s a different risk threat assessment [for marketers]. I now have to investigate this dude, not this platform, to make it safe for my brand.”
Possible's organizers hope the event is the opportunity for that scrutiny. It will be Musk’s first official appearance in front of a purely advertising crowd since he claimed Twitter’s ownership. Musk is set to speak with NBCU's Yaccarino, who has been on record calling for advertisers to hear Musk out for months. NBCU is a top media partner with Twitter.
Brands are looking at Twitter again because they sense the worst could be over, and advertisers are trying to diversify where they spend money, according to an ad exec at a major brand, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Leadership changes at Twitter have stabilized,” this person said. “There are new contextual ad targeting tools, and ultimately people are saying there have been no major blowups lately.”
At the same time, this person said that Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been more aggressive with advertisers, pushing up pricing to expand its margins. This person also said brands are watching Chinese-owned TikTok and its potential ban in the U.S.
With all these variables brands have budgets to spend, and could spread some of that money to Twitter. "It will be significantly less" than it was before, though, advertising leaders said.
“The budgets that used to be allocated to Twitter are gone,” said a top executive from an advertising industry trade group, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They’ve been reallocated elsewhere and all the agencies and marketers that I’ve spoken with, they don’t really envision the money returning to Twitter any time soon.”
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Just for titters
Ad agencies and top brands have opposed Musk’s changes. Activist groups, including NAACP and Anti-Defamation League, have said Musk emboldened hateful actors with his looser moderation policies. Meanwhile, Musk framed his stances as support for “free speech,” giving accounts wide latitude to spout off on Twitter.
Musk clearly feels hemmed in by activist groups, and he tweeted in November that they “hate free speech” and blamed them for pressuring advertisers to revolt. Musk has also made less serious, if not equally puzzling, changes to Twitter, such as last week, when he removed the “w” from the Twitter sign at the San Francisco headquarters. It now reads “Titter.” Earlier this month, Musk also changed the Twitter bird logo on the website to the Doge dog, a meme reference to Dogecoin. Musk recently changed the profile name on his Twitter account to read: Harry Bōlz.