Welcome To Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, No One Wants To Advertise On Your Terrible Platform Any More

Welcome To Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, No One Wants To Advertise On Your Terrible Platform Any More

from the pretend-captain-on-a-sinking-ship dept

On Monday of this week, new CEO Linda Yaccarino officially became CEO of Twitter. Of course, basically no one believes that she’s actually the CEO. Everyone knows that Elon Musk, who in the past has mocked the “CEO” title anyway, is still in charge. He still owns the company and is executive chairman, meaning that he can still fire Yaccarino whenever he wants. And he’s still managing the company and its products. Any honest look at what’s happening here would recognize that Yaccarino’s role is somewhere between “VP of Marketing & Advertising” and “the person we sent to meetings when Elon has pissed off someone important.” At best, she’s poised atop that glass cliff, awaiting the inevitable shove from Elon.

Still, Yaccarino, who had just interviewed Elon on stage in front of advertisers a few weeks before she was hired, spent years leading NBC’s ad sales. She has tons of relationships in the ad business, and it seems obvious that her entire role is to try to sell ads. Because it’s obvious by now that Elon’s best skill at Twitter is scaring away advertisers by being completely clueless and ignorant of how to be a good human being. We’ve written about how Elon himself has admitted to driving away 40% of the company’s advertisers. But more recently he claimed the advertisers were mostly back.

Discussing Twitter’s finances, Mr Musk said the company is now “roughly breaking even”, as most of its advertisers have returned.

Except… that’s bullshit. First of all, the company was “roughly breaking even” before he took over. But at a much higher revenue run rate (approximately $5 billion a year). Elon came in and added approximately $1.3 billion per year in debt interest payments, and then drove away a huge number of advertisers. He did cut costs by firing basically anyone who knew how to do anything, but that’s hardly a recipe for success

As for the advertisers returning? Nope. On Monday the NY Times got its hands on an internal document saying that Twitter’s ad revenue had dropped 59% year over year. And even its internal sales projections are falling short, meaning that it can’t even meet the lowered expectations the company is setting for itself:

But Twitter’s U.S. advertising revenue for the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was $88 million, down 59 percent from a year earlier, according to an internal presentation obtained by The New York Times. The company has regularly fallen short of its U.S. weekly sales projections, sometimes by as much as 30 percent, the document said.

And, a few hours after that story came out, Elon effectively admitted that he had just lied to the BBC in claiming the advertisers came back. In trying to make himself sound noble during his ridiculous discussion with conspiracy theory nonsense peddler RFK Jr., Elon admitted that advertisers haven’t actually been coming back.

In a Twitter Spaces conversation with long-shot presidential candidate and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Twitter CEO said it was “frankly a struggle for Twitter to break even” because of the loss of ad dollars since he took the helm. More than half of Twitter’s top advertisers suspended ads this winter, but this is the first time Musk has publicly acknowledged the extent of the damage….

Musk tried to frame this as the “cost” of supporting free speech, but as we’ve shown over and over again, Musk doesn’t care one bit about “free speech.” He cares about spreading the speech he supports. Also, the advertisers aren’t leaving because of Elon’s “commitment to free speech.” They’re leaving because he’s a liability to their brand.

The NY Times report notes that even the big advertisers who are still on Twitter are spending a lot less:

Some of Twitter’s biggest advertisers — including Apple, Amazon and Disney — have been spending less on the platform than last year, three former and current Twitter employees said. Large specialized “banner” ads on Twitter’s trends page, which can cost $500,000 for 24 hours and are almost always bought by large brands to promote events, shows or movies, are often going unfilled, they said.

Twitter has also run into public relations snafus with big advertisers like Disney. In April, Twitter mistakenly gave a gold check mark — a badge meant to signify a paying advertiser — to the @DisneyJuniorUK account, which Disney doesn’t own. The account posted racial slurs, leading Disney officials to demand from Twitter an explanation and assurances that it wouldn’t happen again, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

And of course it doesn’t help that the person at Twitter who had been in charge of “brand safety and ad quality” quit last week.

The report also notes that, in Elon’s desperate need for revenue, the company is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel of advertisers:

In one week last month, four of Twitter’s top 10 U.S. advertisers were online gambling and fantasy sports betting companies, according to one presentation. Twitter has also started allowing ads for cannabis accessories, including “bongs, vapes, rolling paper,” as well as erectile dysfunction products and services, according to internal emails.

Adult content, which is permitted on Twitter, has become a concern among the company’s sales staff. When some employees tried to drum up interest from advertisers for Mother’s Day, they found that potential sponsored search terms, like “MomLife,” surfaced pornographic videos, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

Again, literally none of this had to go this way. Every single bit of this is due to terrible decisions by Elon, starting with overpaying for the site in the first place, then trying to back out of the deal, then saddling his new company with $13 billion in debt (which, by the way, now almost equals the amount that Fidelity claims the entire company is worth). Elon didn’t need to fire everyone. He didn’t need to make irrational, spontaneous decisions that pushed the worst content to the forefront of his site and drove advertisers away. He didn’t need to undermine the safety of the site’s highest profile users and advertisers.

But he did all of those things.

And now he thinks Linda Yaccarino will clean up the mess he’s still making, and which it’s still clear he doesn’t realize is entirely due to his own terrible decisions.

Filed Under: advertisers, advertising, elon musk, linda yaccarino

Companies: twitter