In short, X, formerly known as Twitter, is in a pickle – its ad revenue keeps dropping. Now, the social media platform is leaning on Google for help. Not everyone is happy.
Elon Musk likes to say X’s advertising business is recovering. The truth is much starker – in June, the New York Times reported that the platform’s ad revenue was down 59% from a year earlier.
With content moderation in disarray, it’s no surprise that advertisers are spooked by a rise in hate speech, pornography, unchecked state propaganda, and Musk’s edgy persona. Most recently, Musk started blaming the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, for X’s troubles.
Now, X has decided that the best way to actually sell some ads is to outsource the job. Google will help.
The tech giant already confirmed to AdAge in mid-September that X will start receiving programmatic ads from Google. In other words, advertisers will soon be able to access X's home feed inventory through Google Ads Display campaigns.
"Like a number of social apps and websites, X has signed up to monetize its home feed with Google Ad Manager,” a Google spokesperson told AdAge.
This means that X will now move away from its own advertising platform and sales efforts that were more like a big-budget film bombing at the box office. It’s also important because, at the time of Musk’s $44 billion purchase, X brought in 92% of its total revenue from ads.
Musk does try to diversify income streams, for instance, by offering a X Premium (previously known as Twitter Blue) subscription. But the number of subscribers hasn’t even exceeded one million, and that’s clearly not enough to make up for the loss of ad revenue.
One could, of course, argue that Twitter has never been more than a footnote on advertiser media plans. But Musk and X’s chief executive Linda Yaccarino are still trying to fix a leaky boat, and the combination of both Google’s and X’s data could be powerful.
Not everyone is happy, though. On Mastodon, a small social network, tech and privacy activist Lauren Weinstein called the decision to collaborate with X “a dark day indeed for Google.”
“Not removing most hate speech and disinformation/misinformation are key aspects of Musk's #Twitter/X and his publicly stated philosophies, which also include his direct friendly public interactions with racists and fascists on the platform,” Weinstein said.
“By making it possible for #Google Ad users to buy ads on Twitter by linking the Google and Twitter ad systems, Google is now explicitly aligning itself with Musk's philosophies and sensibilities, by providing new sources of income via Google systems to increase ad buys on Twitter, and so help continue to fund Musk's hate speech and disinformation operations.”
For its part, Google stressed that advertisers can naturally choose what sites and apps their ads run on.
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