Some advertisers are pulling back from buying advertising space on Twitter as they decide what the site will look like under new owner Elon Musk.
In a statement to NBC News, Omnicom, the world’s second-largest agency by revenue, said that while it remained in close contact with Twitter to determine any changes to the site’s operations, “uncertainty of this nature raises concerns among advertisers.” The company said it will continue to provide guidance to clients so they can make informed decisions.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with the thinking of Interpublic Group’s Mediabrand ad agency unit said it had advised its clients to halt spending on Twitter for at least a week to assess any new changes in the site̵[ads1]7;s direction. A spokesperson for Interpublic declined to comment.
Musk confirmed the impact of the withdrawal in a tweet on Friday, saying “Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue” and blaming what he called “activist groups” who he said “pressured advertisers”.
He added: “Extremely messed up! They are trying to destroy free speech in America.”
There is no evidence that advertisers are responding en masse to activist groups, and Musk’s own tweet was later given further context by users who linked to news articles suggesting that advertisers were acting independently.
On Friday, a group of 60 civil rights and civil society groups, including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the website StopToxicTwitter.com, urging major brands to stop advertising on Twitter. At the time of writing, there was no evidence yet that the companies or ad groups had acted in response to that campaign.
It’s not clear what, if any, changes Musk and his team have made to the platform since he closed on his $44 billion deal to take the company private last week, though at least one study suggested that hate speech on the platform spiked soon after takeover. Musk himself posted, and then deleted, a debunked, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just days after the deal closed.
Asked how brands will position themselves in this opening chapter of Twitter’s new era, Wedbush Securities CEO Dan Ives told NBC News that advertisers simply don’t want to be associated with controversy.
“If there’s a major street fight around hate speech, advertisers are going to run for the hills,” Ives said.
“That’s fundamentally the problem. You’re trying to bring advertisers back while loosening content moderation. They’re going exactly against each other. And no advertiser is going to jump in the deep end until they know the rules of the game. And Musk marches to the beat of a different drummer. “