Elon Musk Tries to Win Back X/Twitter Advertisers at Cannes

Elon Musk smirks
Wired Photostream/Flickr

Tesla CEO and owner of X/Twitter Elon Musk made a concerted effort to rebuild his frayed relationship with the advertising community during his appearance at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Wednesday.

Bloomberg reports that the event, which gathers the most influential executives in the advertising industry in the South of France, became a focal point for Musk to address the controversies that have accompanied his stewardship of X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. In an on-stage interview conducted by Mark Read, CEO of WPP Plc, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, Musk faced tough questions right from the start.

“Back in November, you had a message for us, you told us to go ‘f——’ ourselves,” Read started, referencing Musk’s outburst against the advertising industry last year. Musk explained that his comment had been aimed at a specific subset of advertisers who he felt were attempting to limit free speech, adding that progress had since been made to make the platform a safer place for brands.

Musk’s tumultuous takeover of X/Twitter has been marked by significant challenges, particularly with advertisers who play a crucial role in the platform’s revenue stream. His decision to relax some content restrictions and reinstate previously banned accounts caused considerable unease among marketers. Additionally, Musk’s own controversial tweets have often drawn criticism and caused issues for the platform. Musk acknowledged this, stating: “I do shoot myself in the foot from time to time. If you’re constantly going through a filter, now you aren’t being real. It’s better to be real.”

“Advertisers have a right to appear next to content that they think is compatible with their brands,” Musk acknowledged during the Cannes event. He also highlighted that third-party reviews had given the platform high marks for brand safety. Nonetheless, he reaffirmed his commitment to prioritizing free speech over revenue, stating, that X/Twitter will always choose the option of making less money over limiting free speech.

Musk’s return to Cannes follows X/Twitter’s absence from last year’s event amidst the upheaval caused by his acquisition. The acquisition led advertising agencies, including WPP, to advise clients to pause or reconsider their ad spend on the platform. Musk’s speech appeared aimed at addressing these concerns and extending an olive branch to skittish advertisers.

Recently, X/Twitter filed a lawsuit against Media Matters for America, accusing the organization of maliciously attempting to drive advertisers away by claiming that ads from major brands like Apple Inc., International Business Machines Corp., and Oracle Corp. were running next to pro-Nazi content. The new risks and ongoing challenges have had a tangible impact; according to previous reports from Bloomberg, X/Twitter was projected to achieve about $2.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2023—a staggering 45 percent drop from 2021, the last full year before Musk’s takeover.

To counteract the falling ad revenue and bolster the platform’s financial stability, Musk, along with X/Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, have been attempting to revitalize the advertising segment. A new series of video partnerships is designed to offer advertisers more high-quality opportunities for ad placements. Additionally, Musk has been attempting to diversify X’s revenue streams by launching a revamped subscription service and floating ideas for transforming X into an “everything app” complete with payment services.

Read more at Bloomberg here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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