The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk was by no means short of drama. It started off with an unsolicited bid in early April, followed shortly by a drastic fall-out and a lawsuit filed by Twitter against Musk for attempting to terminate the deal, before a final vote which saw Musk seal the deal and buy the platform for $44Bn on 4th October 2022. As Elon Musk, a self-declared “free speech absolutist”, becomes the new owner of Twitter, multiple Twitter advertisers including GM, Dyson, and Mazda have already paused their campaigns out of concern at potential volatility on the platform. So, what will Musk’s Twitter look like and what does it mean for advertisers?
Last month, Musk tweeted directly at Twitter’s advertisers in a bid to ease their nerves. His message touched on his plans for content moderation and his desire to improve the relevancy of adverts on the platform, both in response to growing advertiser concerns and in a bid to begin improving the reputation of Twitter’s ad business which is already on shaky ground. He claimed that this deal was not to make money, but to “help humanity” by promoting free speech in a healthy manner. However, his wish to cut back on content restriction and reverse the permanent ban on users who repeatedly violate policies has raised concerns for advertisers flinching at the prospect of their campaigns appearing alongside controversial content. There are also concerns that the new lenient free speech policies would see the platform plagued with hate speech and disinformation, which is already a growing issue on Twitter when compared to other social giants. However, no changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies have yet been made. While Musk asserts that the platform will not be a “free-for-all -hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences”, many are still questioning how far he will go to foster brand safety and address advertisers’ concerns.
Conversely, the billionaire has stated that Twitter will “aspire to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brands and grows your enterprise” with the goal to create a better user experience by serving ads that are highly relevant to users. While it is still uncertain how he is planning to do this, a move in this direction would be a welcome one for advertisers. In the long-term, Musk has previously posted about his plans to turn Twitter into “the app for everything”. Observers have hypothesised that he’s aiming at the creation of a “super app”, similar to the likes of Chinese app WeChat, which incorporates different services such as messaging, social media, commerce and payments. Should this come to fruition, it would unlock more user data points and fresh advertising opportunities that could entice advertisers to invest in the platform.
All eyes will be on Twitter in the next few months as we watch to see if Musk’s stance on free speech will significantly impact the platform and dissuade advertisers from investing. Despite concerns, Musk’s pedigree in innovation and business prowess could be the exact thing Twitter has been looking for.