Musk attempts a media blitz to win back Twitter advertisers

Data: Inside information; Graphic: Jared Whalen/Axios

Elon Musk is on a media tour to improve his reputation as Twitter faces business challenges and advertiser skepticism linked to its erratic and controversial product and policy changes.

Why is this important: Musk claims in an interview with the BBC last week that most of Twitter’s advertisers have returned, but analysts suggest Twitter’s ad revenue is declining rapidly.

  • Asked during the BBC interview to cite an example of a single advertiser who left Twitter and returned, Musk could not provide one.

By the numbers: A new March 2023 forecast from Insider Intelligence suggests that Twitter will bring in around $2.9 billion in advertising revenue for 2023, after originally forecasting in October 2022 that it would earn $4.74 billion.

  • Another estimate from Sensor Tower suggests that Twitter’s top 50 advertisers have slowed spending in the first two months of this year by almost $20 million collectively, compared to the same period in 2022.
  • Other data from Sensor Tower suggests Musk’s attempt to charge users for verification did not lead to huge revenue gains so far on mobile.

Driving the news: Musk sat down for an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to discuss everything from his plans to build a “truth-seeking” AI tool to his spat with the New York Times.

  • In the first part of the interview that aired Monday night, Carlson didn’t press Musk about Twitter’s publicity and revenue issues. A second part will be broadcast on Tuesday.

This week, Musk to speak with NBCUniversal head of publicity and partnerships Linda Yaccarino for pre-scheduled meeting interview at a conference for mobile marketers.

Between the lines: Musk tries to defend himself widely in places where he is comfortable, but his distrust of the media looms.

  • Last week he gave a last minute interview to the BBC because, he said, ‘there is a lot going on and this might be a good opportunity to answer a few questions’.
  • Days later, he said the interview “was exceptional in illustrating why you can’t rely on the media for the truth.”

Be smart: Instead of focusing on messages that tend to resonate with the advertising community ā€” like brand safety or effective content moderation ā€” Musk tried to paint a bigger picture of Twitter as a healthy company that does better under his ownership.

  • He told the BBC that Twitter “could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things continue to go well.”
  • He told Fox News that he paid too much for Twitter but that “ensuring the strength of democracy and guaranteeing free speech” was priceless.

The big picture: Musk’s strategy of primarily engaging with people he trusts or communicating directly through his own tweets has led to more chaos and confusion for advertisers, which is why marketers will be watching closely. his interview with NBC’s Yaccarino this week.

  • Musk sadly ended Twitter’s entire communications team when he took over and ransacked it public relations efforts.
  • He has selected fights with multiple traditional media on everything from verification to account labels.

What to watch: If Musk provides concrete examples of policy changes or efforts that will allay advertisers’ concerns about things like hate speech and misinformation.

  • While Musk claims hate speech has fallen under his ownership, third party search indicates that this is not the case.

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