Less than a week after Musk took Twitter private on October 28, Interpublic Group advised clients of its IPM Media Brands agencies to pause paid advertising on the platform, as CNBC reports. Among those clients are CVS Pharmacy, Nintendo and Unilever.
Although Musk has proclaimed himself a “free-speech absolutist,” after the $44 billion deal he insisted that his Twitter would not turn into a “free-for-all hellscape.” Still, research by the Network Contagion Research Institute and Dataminr has found that no sooner did Munk close the deal than racist tweets and other hate speech soared to an atypical degree.
General Motors (GM), for its part, said it would suspend Twitter advertising, according to a separate CNBC report. “We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership,” GM said.
As CNN notes, Twitter’s new owner also came under fire for tweeting and then without explanation deleting a link to a false conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Adtech watchdog Check My Ads co-founder Claire Atkin, speculating on a potential “seismic shift” for marketing, said, “I think advertisers are bracing to leave.”
As The Hollywood Reporter observes, Twitter disclosed that fully 89% of the company’s revenue last year came from ads. Media consultant Brad Adgate told the industry publication that “it will be a tall task to ease Madison Avenue.”
Meanwhile, the head of Twitter’s ad sales business, Sarah Personette, has left the company, as TechCrunch reports. Personette’s title was chief consumer officer. Twitter’s chief of people and diversity, Dalana Brand, also departed. Their exits came after Musk fired four major executives.
For all the tumult, Barron’s points out that in the $600 billion global digital ad business, Twitter is “barely a blip.”
Prior to the recent developments, WARC projected Twitter ad spending to rise 11% in 2022, compared with a projected 42.5% last year—a weaker 2022 forecast than for all U.S. platforms except Facebook, as Digiday reports.