Advertisers’ X Exit Has Been a Trickle Rather Than an Exodus


Advertisers’ fresh attention on X, formerly Twitter, following another tumultuous few days, obscures the reality that the alleged advertiser exodus—when Elon Musk assumed control of X in late October 2022—never fully represented all brands.

Like other platform boycotts, there’s a gap between what brands say and the channels they choose to run ads on.

Market intelligence firm Sensor Tower analyzed how many of X’s top 100 advertisers, as of October 2022, have stuck around in the ensuing months of Musk’s ownership.

In December 2022, 45 of these top spenders ceased advertising on the platform. That figure rose to 54 by February 2023, but dropped back to 46 in May, the month that former NBC Universal executive Linda Yaccarino assumed the CEO role. As of October, 50 top advertisers had stopped spending on the platform, according to Sensor Tower.

“All these brands made a big fuss and quietly, as the dust settled, they jumped back into the water,” said an agency media buyer requesting anonymity to discuss sensitive client matters. The buyer had a large entertainment client come back to the platform in the second quarter following Yaccarino’s appointment as CEO. This client stopped advertisements on X in the past week following the latest controversy in which Musk called an antisemitic post “the actual truth.”

Adweek, Sensory Tower

Disney, Comcast and Apple, among others, stopped advertising on the platform in the past week. Additionally, left-leaning watchdog Media Matters published a report last week finding ads on X appearing next to hate speech. In turn, Musk is suing Media Matters for defamation.

There’s a contrarian take [that says] ‘give me the garbage inventory.’

—Anonymous ad buyer

Clients of media analysis firm Ebiquity have gradually stopped spend on X. Throughout 2022, around 30 clients were consistently active. That figure dropped to 24 in December 2022 and 16 in January, staying in the teens until July, when the number of active advertisers on X dropped to 6. Only two Ebiquity clients were on X as of September, the latest month for which data is available.

“A slow trickle [of clients] returned with Linda joining and then a slow decline [left] as issues mounted,” said a second media buyer, requesting anonymity. “About two months after Linda [joined] … it was obvious that Musk made decisions and Yaccarino always backed them.”

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