Elon Musk to hold Twitter Spaces with advertisers


Elon Musk is meeting with some of Twitter’s largest advertisers and marketing partners on Wednesday in an attempt to reassure executives following raucous developments at the social media site.

The move comes days after Musk — who acquired the company in a $44 billion deal last month — threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” campaign against advertisers that leave his platform.

Musk will speak to a vetted group of advertisers on “Twitter Spaces,” a live audio conversation feature on the platform. WPP, one of the biggest ad agencies in the world, is among those participating, according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elon Musk courts Twitter advertisers as he seeks new streams of revenue

Topics for the discussion are unclear, but last week Musk said Twitter was facing a “massive drop in revenue“as advertisers paused campaigns on the platform. Since Musk completed his acquisition, reports of hate speech and abuse on Twitter have swelled.

Musk has been scrambling to shore up the company’s revenue streams, cut costs by laying people off and find new ways to make money as he faces the reality of having to pay around $1 billion a year in interest on the debt he increased buying Twitter. The vast majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising. A potential recession and rising inflation has already deeply cut into ad budgets, making now a particularly hard time for the entire digital ad industry.

At the same time, advertisers are hypersensitive to the kind of content their ads might appear beside. Musk has repeatedly said he wants to maintain content moderation standards, but by cutting half of the company’s employees activist groups and advertisers have grown doubtful the company will be able to maintain its standards on keeping hate speech and violent and sexual content out of people’s feeds.

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NAACP President Derrick Johnson called on businesses to drop their advertisements on Twitter “until actions are taken to make Twitter a safe space.” Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” accused businesses that participate in the boycott of “trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Automakers Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen have all pulled their Twitter ads, along with cereal and snack companies General Mills and Mondelez, the corporation behind Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Sour Patch Kids candy. International ad and consulting firm Interpublic Group, which represents American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, Spotify and dozens of other major corporations, has also advised its clients to suspend Twitter ad buys for now.

“A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues,” Musk tweeted Friday as more companies began their advertising exits, threatening to unleash his rowdy online fans on businesses and executives that desert the platform.

In his brief tenure, Musk has laid off roughly half of Twitter’s workforce, decimating content moderation and engineering teams days before Tuesday’s midterm elections. As the company’s remaining staff struggled to keep up with complex infrastructure challenges, the company moved to hire back some of those displaced employees.

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Musk has plans to sell Twitter’s blue verification badge for $8 per month, he said, but without actually verifying users’ identities, a prospect that may actually cost the company more money than it brings in. It also threatens to create havoc on a platform that already struggles with the proliferation of disinformation, bots and scammers.

Since taking over, Musk has taunted politicians — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) — on the platform, shared a meme featuring a nazi soldierpropagated misinformation about the attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and imposed draconian restrictions on parody accounts.

Those and other of Musk’s moves have spooked advertisers.

“Advertisers are not being manipulated by activist groups, they are being compelled by established principles around the types of companies they can do business with. These principles include an assessment of the platforms commitment to brand safety and suitability,” Lou Paskalis, the president of a major marketing firm, MMA Global, tweeted at Musk.

Musk blocked Paskalis — then unblocked him — after the exchange.

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