Twitter's ad sales have reportedly dropped by 59 percent since last year

Advertisers may be spooked by a rise in hate speech and pornography.


Twitter's advertising revenue is down 59 percent during a five week stretch between April 1st and early May compared to the same period last year, The New York Times has reported. It regularly falls short of sales projections, and things aren't likely to change soon (apparently despite the arrival of new CEO Linda Yaccarino), according to Twitter employees and documents seen by the NYT.

Musk previously said that Twitter was on track to post $3 billion in 2023 revenue compared to $5.1 billion in 2021. Last March, he stated Twitter was worth $20 billion, less than half the $44 billion he paid for it.

In a Twitter Space last week, Musk said "half our advertising" disappeared, blaming advertisers in Europe and North America who have put "extreme pressure" on the company. "They are trying to drive Twitter bankrupt," he added.

However, Twitter's ad sales staff is worried that advertisers have been scared off by a rise in hate speech and pornography, along with a surfeit of ads for things like online gambling and marijuana products. Since Musk took over Twitter, he has taken actions like firing key sales executives and reinstating banned users. That prompted ad agencies and brands including GM and Volkswagen to pause ad spending.

Other advertisers including Apple, Amazon and Disney have reportedly been spending less on advertising than last year, employees told the NYT. It cited an example of large banner ads used to promote things like events or new movies (that can cost up to $500,000 for 24 hours) going unsold. Six agencies said clients have limited ad spending on Twitter over inconsistent support, confusion over changes and the presence of misinformation and toxic content.

They're also concerned about Musk's tweets, like one that compared billion George Soros — a frequent target of antisemites — to X-Men comic book villain Magneto. Earlier this month, Twitter head of safety and content moderation Ella Irwin left the company after the person previously in that role, Yoel Roth, departed in November of 2022.

It's not all bad news, though, as some large media buyers have recently advised clients to return to Twitter, the report states. When Linda Yaccarino was appointed CEO last month, Musk said that she'll "focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design and new technology." She may also be able to help Twitter smooth over troubled relationships with advertisers and resolve issues around moderation for hate speech, pornography and more.

"For a period, we weren’t even sure who to get on the phone with to talk to," one media exec told the NYT. "With Linda coming in, that could change that in a big way." At the same time, he acknowledged that it may be a "tall order" for Yaccarino to deal with the volatile environment Musk has created.

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