In the two weeks since Elon Musk tried to reassure advertisers that Twitter wouldn’t turn into a “free-for-all hellscape” under his ownership, at least a few aren’t taking him at his word. Pfizer
and United Airlines
are just a few of the brands that have said they’d be pausing their spend on the platform following Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the company. Major ad agencies, meanwhile, are recommending that their own clientele hit the breaks as well.
Now we have a clue about where those budgets might be going
Rivals like Snapchat
Reddit and TikTok all saw a flood of advertiser activity during the month of October, according to figures that were shared with MarketWatch by the web analytics platform Similarweb. During that time, Twitter’s ad portal saw roughly one-fifth of its traffic drop, while some competing platforms saw traffic spikes that were twice as large or more.
A profile linked to Twitter’s communication’s team did not immediately respond to a direct message seeking comment on the data.
The moves are happening during a time of increasing uncertainty in digital ad markets, which were throttled both by the rocky post-pandemic economy and by Apple’s debut of its new App Tracking Transparency software nationwide last spring. The change, which limited the amount of tracking and targeting platforms were able to do while running on iOS devices, hit some tech giants particularly hard: Meta
CFO David Wehner said in an one recent earnings call that the change is estimated to cost the company an estimated $10 billion in revenue this year.
That sort of backdrop makes it fairly low-stakes to boycott Twitter, as some marketers recently told Digiday. Musk would later say that the platform has seen a “a massive drop in revenue,” since his takeover, a trend which he blamed on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.”
In order to find where those advertisers might be spending their budgets instead, Similarweb measured web traffic leading to the ad platforms of several major platforms, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest
and Snapchat, among others. Then the company compared the traffic figures from 2022 to the same figures from October of last year. The company found a roughly 19% YoY drop—from 2.6 million monthly visitors to 2.1 million this year.
Figures shared with MarketWatch revealed that marketers were flocking to the pages used to buy ads on competing platforms like TikTok, whose year-over-year traffic jumped by roughly 60%, and Reddit, whose ad portal traffic jumped by nearly 50% since last year. LinkedIn, meanwhile, saw a roughly 23% jump, while Pinterest saw a roughly 8% increase.
In a week-by-week breakdown posted by Similarweb analyst David Carr, he notes that Twitter’s ad portal has seen a pretty steady drop in activity since mid-September. Carr points out that this drop coincided with a series of court proceedings that “seemed increasingly likely to result in [Musk] being compelled to complete the acquisition.”
Musk’s attempts to assuage advertisers’ concerns so far—like the hour-long chat that he hosted on the platform earlier this week—have fallen flat. Unless Twitter’s new owner finds a new tactic, there’s a chance some of them might be gone for good.