Internal documents obtained by The New York Times reveal that Twitter is projected to lose a staggering $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of the year, a more dire situation than initially reported. The documents, sourced from Twitter’s Salesforce X, list over 200 ad campaigns, including those of major players like Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft, that have either halted or are contemplating suspending their advertisements on the social media giant.
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion last year, concerns about Musk’s behavior and content moderation decisions have led to a nearly 60% decline in advertising on the platform this year. Some brands are hesitant due to Musk’s controversies, prompting Twitter to initiate efforts to regain advertiser trust.
More than 100 brands have fully suspended advertising, with dozens more labeled as “at risk.” The fallout intensified after Musk’s endorsement of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Nov. 15, leading to a significant spike in ad suspensions.
Major brands, including Airbnb and Uber, have collectively halted over $1 million and $800,000 worth of advertising, respectively. Netflix, Coca-Cola, and others have also suspended significant campaigns, contributing to the estimated $3 million loss in Netflix’s discontinued ads alone.
Microsoft subsidiaries and divisions of Amazon, Google, and more have joined the wave of advertising suspensions, with potential fourth-quarter revenue losses exceeding $4 million for some.
Twitter initially downplayed the risk, citing $11 million at stake, but the internal documents paint a graver picture. The platform’s CEO, Linda Iaccarino, attributed the challenges to a Media Matters report highlighting ads appearing alongside Nazi content. Iaccarino emphasized Twitter’s commitment to free speech but made no direct reference to Musk’s controversial statements.
Musk, in response, pointed out companies continuing to advertise on Twitter, singling out the National Football League. He pledged to donate related ad and subscription revenue from the Gaza war to Israeli hospitals and the Red Cross/Crescent of Gaza, covering revenue from charities, news organizations, and groups promoting conflict-related content. The unfolding controversy raises questions about the delicate balance between free speech, controversial endorsements, and the financial implications for social media platforms.