Twitter starts sharing ad revenue with creators: how long will it last?

Twitter pleased many when it announced that it would start sharing ad revenue with creators. However, there isn’t much revenue to speak of so far. So is this just a one-time trick?

Elon Musk, Twitter’s owner, promised in February that the platform would start sharing revenue with creators. The company is now doing exactly that – but there are conditions. Plus, the social media site is still losing money.

Despite all that, Musk recently said the initial chunk of payouts would amount to $5 million. For example, Ed Krassenstein, the anti-Trump commentator, and his brother Brian Krassenstein, received around $24,000 each.

The ad revenue sharing program lets people keep some of the money generated from showing advertising in the replies to their tweets. In essence, the more people reply to a user’s tweet, and the more ads in those replies get viewed, the more money the user will get.

Volatility risk

Musk said this was not exactly a money-per-view kind of system. Ads are shown in replies and to other verified users in order to ensure that people aren’t able to use bots to drive up their impressions.

Sounds simple, but it’s not because for now, the only users getting paid are those who meet specific criteria, Twitter said.

First, they must be a verified user in possession of a blue check mark. They also should have at least 5 million impressions, or views, on posts in each of the last three months. Finally, a Stripe account linked to their Twitter account is also needed.

“We’re expanding our creator monetization offering to include ads revenue sharing for creators. This means that creators can get a share in ad revenue starting in the replies to their posts. This is part of our effort to help people earn a living directly on Twitter,” the company explained.

That said, the move itself is problematic because accounts posting controversial and not necessarily factual content will usually receive more engagement in the form of heated discussions – and more revenue through the new scheme.

The fact of the matter is that Twitter Blue is already a home to many controversial, usually far-right accounts, and the way the new program works might make the platform an even more volatile place that no serious advertiser will want to associate with.

A lot of options for creators

This is an ongoing problem for Musk, who’s actually been boosting some of the accounts that are now getting paid.

Twitter's cash flow remains negative because of a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue and a heavy debt load, he said on Saturday, falling short of his expectation in March that Twitter could reach cash flow positive by June.

Musk also said on Sunday in another tweet that Twitter did not see the increase in advertising revenue that he’d expected, adding that "July is a bit more promising." Twitter Spaces hasn't generated any revenue yet either and is "all-cost", Musk said.

So maybe the new scheme is an effort to lure more moderate creators back to Twitter and truly turn it into Musk’s beloved “digital town square.” Keith Coleman, Twitter’s product VP, even mentioned “next generation of journalists” finally making a living on Twitter.

Twitter needs to act fast, though. If it keeps losing money and bleeding advertisers, the next payouts will surely be more modest.

Besides, creators now have a lot of options about where to settle, for example, Threads, the Meta-owned Twitter-killer app. It has signed up 100 million users in less than five days since launch, a feat that took ChatGPT two months to achieve.