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Twitter's Bid to Regain Advertiser Trust Amid Conflicting Data and Policy Changes

Twitter takes proactive steps to regain advertiser confidence amid policy alterations and differing data narratives under new ownership. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Despite its rather modest delegation at Cannes this week, Twitter is on a relentless mission to rekindle advertiser confidence amidst an ever-evolving ad policy landscape under the stewardship of its new owner, Elon Musk.

The appointment of Linda Yaccarino, a seasoned advertising industry leader, as Twitter's CEO clearly signals this intent. Despite Musk's known aversion to ads, Yaccarino's hiring hints that Musk's initial efforts to downsize Twitter's dependence on ad revenue hasn't yielded the desired results.

True, Twitter's various subscription programs now generate new revenue streams. However, they account for only a sliver of the revenue derived from ads. Given that less than 1% of Twitter users opt for paid usage, it appears Musk and team are rechanneling their efforts to court ad partners.

As part of its initiative, Twitter is bolstering its ties with brand safety and suitability providers to assure independent assurance. The platform is evaluating services from Zefr, Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify, and Unitary, promising advertisers greater control over their ad placements.

A recent analysis by Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify, already Twitter partners for ad measurement, reveals that 99% of measured Twitter ad impressions align with content deemed safe. This counters industry conjectures and reassures advertisers that Twitter remains a secure promotional channel under Musk's regime.

In fact, Twitter reports a resurgence of advertisers, with over 75% of its top 100 advertisers running campaigns again—an upswing from earlier this year when about half of them had paused ad spends due to safety concerns.

Despite this, ad revenue is still a pain point. The New York Times reports a 59% year-over-year slump in Twitter's ad revenue in April, with scant signs of recovery. Advertisers are treading cautiously as Musk frequently tweaks ad rules.

For instance, Musk recently suggested new rules to prevent brands from leveraging comments on popular tweets for free advertising. While this responds to complaints about spammy replies, such rules might interfere with legitimate tweet strategies, causing anxiety among ad partners.

Another sore point is hate speech. Despite Twitter's claim of a significant reduction under Musk's leadership, these assertions are challenged by various experts. Interestingly, Musk himself has dialed down his claims, stating a 30% decline in hate speech visibility since his takeover, as opposed to the 50% figure he touted in March.

This variance can partly be attributed to the measurement methodology for hate speech, which Twitter seems to shift frequently, altering the overall numbers. It's a challenge to discern the meaning behind Twitter's statistics as Musk seems to pivot on key stats to his advantage.

Remember when Musk attempted to back out of his $44 billion offer for Twitter, alleging that Twitter's mDAU count was significantly erroneous due to a high number of bot profiles? However, shortly after acquiring Twitter, Musk dropped these claims, and reported a record high in Twitter's mDAU numbers. This flip-flopping confuses Twitter's position on real user counts and potentially influences ad spend decisions.

This inconsistency underscores the importance of third-party verification. Observing how ad data providers assess Twitter's brand safety and reach over time will be critical. After all, Twitter's reported data seems to change with the wind, adding another challenge for Yaccarino as she aims to refine Twitter's appeal to brand partners.