What’s going on?
Two incidents saw more than 100 major brands cease advertising on X.
The first was a report showing that the ads of tech giants like Apple could be shown against hate speech (albeit only in extremely rare cases).
Musk told big brands to ‘f*ck’ themselves
When asked in an interview how he would respond to the brands that had stopped advertising on Twitter as a result, Musk responded in an … unusual way.
Musk’s comments today came during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Summit. Before Sorkin had even finished asking his question about the companies who paused advertising on X, Musk interjected: “I hope they stop. Don’t advertise. If someone’s going to try and blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money…go fu*k yourself. Go fu*k yourself. Is that clear?”
He followed that up with a “Hi Bob” – waving to Bob Iger, who was in the audience. Iger is CEO of Disney, one of the first brands to join Apple in suspending ads on the platform.
Now hoping to sell ads to small businesses instead
The Financial Times reports that X is now focusing on smaller businesses.
X is racing to attract smaller and medium-sized businesses to prop up its flailing advertising business, following Elon Musk’s profanity-strewn attack on the big brands that are boycotting his social media platform […]
Following those remarks on Wednesday, X is doubling down on investments to facilitate ad spending by smaller players, seeking to offset the steep revenue losses from the departure of larger advertisers that Musk said were “going to kill the company”.
The company said it had always planned to target SMEs (small and medium enterprises), but was now emphasising this push.
But one former X ad sales exec said the company will struggle to appeal to this market, which relies on sophisticated self-service ad buying tools that let non-ad-savvy business owners easily target the right potential customers.
Such a shift would be difficult, the former executive added, as X’s ads offering to businesses lags behind rivals such as Meta, Google and TikTok due to a historical lack of “commitment to building a world-class ads platform”.
The FT also reports that friends and former colleagues of X CEO Linda Yaccarino have been “bombarding” her with phone calls trying to persuade her to quit the role to protect her own reputation.
Even if X had the right tools to sell to small businesses, it’s hard to see how the company could hope to make up ad revenue lost from major brands which spend millions of dollars apiece.
Nothing that Musk does is too surprising these days, but it is very hard indeed to understand why an ad exec of Yaccarino’s status would stand by him for so long when he is not just making her job impossible, but also placing her reputation at huge risk. I’d have lost money if I’d placed a bet on how long she’d stay.
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