As more and more companies are halting their ad campaigns on Twitter over content moderation concerns that sparked after Elon Musk’s takeover, new data from MediaRadar revealed that the social media platform began losing its advertisers months before the $44 billion acquisition was completed.
Musk’s plans to change Twitter’s content moderation policies to allow for ‘’free speech’’ have drawn global criticizm due to fears that misinformation and hate speech could become more common on the platform.
The company also laid off nearly half of its workforce last Friday, including those from its trust and safety teams such as Human Rights, Accessibility Experience, AI Ethics, Curation and Public Policy.
Also Read: Twitter asks some fired workers to return
Many companies, including General Motors, Audi, United Airlines, Pfizer, General Mills and Mondelez International, announced that they have pulled their ads from Twitter, due to concerns that their ads might appear next to problematic content and the current uncertainty regarding the platform’s future.
However, according to MediaRadar (via Marketing Dive), Twitter had already began losing advertisers long before the completion of the acquisition.
According to the ad intelligence firm, the number of Twitter advertisers grew between April and May, during the weeks after Musk made his offer, but has seen a steep decline since then.
While the company had 3,900 advertisers in May, it decreased to 2,300 in August, before rising slightly to 2,900 in September, when there was more uncertainty as to whether the deal would be completed.
The data also shows that Twitter struggled to gain new advertisers while losing the ones it once had. The company lured an average of 1000 new advertisers per month prior to July, but it dropped to nearly 200 in July & August, and slightly rose to 600 in September.
Last week, Musk said that Twitter revenue significantly dropped ‘’due to activist groups pressuring advertisers’’.
The same week, he also said ‘’Twitter can not rely entirely on advertisers’’ and that they need to charge users for the blue check mark in order to ‘’pay the bills somehow’’.
The company started rolling out its new $8 Twitter Blue plan to iOS users yesterday, which will now be required for those who want to receive or continue having a verification badge.
In late September, a number of major companies including Dyson, Mazda, Forbes and PBS Kids also stopped running ads on some parts of Twitter after realizing their ads appeared next to content that solicited child pornography, Reuters reported at the time.