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3 Interesting Facts About the State of Twitter Advertising

Twitter advertising isn’t dead; it’s just evolving. 

Despite playing second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to other social advertising powerhouses, and a few odd headlines (yes, we’re talking about Elon), Twitter’s doing what it can to hang onto its share of advertising budgets.

Through August 2022, nearly 10.6k companies promoted more than 12.4k brands on Twitter, collectively spending $1.1b. 

How does that stack up to the other major social players? 

It doesn’t—and it’s not even close. 

In 2021, Facebook generated almost $115b in ad revenue

Meanwhile, Instagram’s ad revenue remained below $30b, but its revenue growth is outpacing Facebook’s.

Whatever way you look at it, Twitter is a little fish in a vast pond. 

Still, more than $1b in ad revenue in less than a year is nothing to snuff at, nor are the 10.6k companies investing in Twitter ads this year. It’s also worth noting that Twitter’s ad revenue has increased every year since 2011. 

While Twitter’s certainly struggling to maintain its status as a social advertising giant, it’s refusing to go down without a fight—and recent headlines may be what it needs to stay in the game.

Here are three interesting facts about the state of Twitter advertising and what they mean for the future of the social media pioneer.

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Twitter’s Still Got “It”

Since Elon Musk let the world know that Twitter was on his wish list, there’s been an undeniable uptick in interest from crypto aficionados, finance enthusiasts and Elon loyalists (more on that in a minute). 

This prompted advertisers with these audiences to head to Twitter, eager to get in front of these more niche audiences.

Between January and August 2022, the top advertisers on Twitter came primarily from industries tied to Finance and Entertainment, including Streaming Services, Digital Currency, and Banks. 

The top-spending category through August, Subscription Streaming Services (AppleTV+, HBO Max, Disney+, etc.), spent more than $53mm on Twitter.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency advertisers, including Chain (Web3 and blockchain infrastructure) and, combined to spend $38mm.

Other Twitter advertisers during the first 6 months of 2022 included Bank of America, Capital One, and entertainment websites, Herald Weekly, Kueez, and Parent Influence.

In this case, all press is good press may be true–the uptick in Twitter interest has certainly attracted advertisers, too.

Twitter Has Widespread Appeal

On the surface, it may seem like Twitter is becoming a niche social advertising world that caters to a smaller subset of companies.

But the numbers show that’s absolutely not the case.  

In fact, advertisers from these industries accounted for just 19% of Twitter’s total ad investment through August. 

Advertisers for Athletic Wear companies, in particular, including those from Adidas, Fabletics, and Nike, spent big, dishing out more than $25mm on Twitter ads.

What does this advertising variety tell us about the state of Twitter advertising? 

Two things:

  1. Twitter is definitely becoming an increasingly popular option to certain advertisers who align with Elon Musk’s persona. This will continue.   
  2. Twitter ads still have widespread appeal, albeit on a much smaller scale than other platforms. This should continue.  

Long term, it seems likely that more Elon-aligned advertisers will invest, but as long as Twitter users continue to exhibit behaviors that are appealing to all—53% of people on Twitter are more likely to be the first to buy new products—a broad spectrum of advertisers will keep their wallets open.

It’s Go Big or Go Home

Here’s another indication that Twitter advertising is holding on: The advertisers who really invested did so in big ways. 

During the first 6 months of 2022, around 200 companies (each spending more than $1mm), including and Intel, accounted for 74% of the platform’s total ad investment. 

Lower that investment to $500k and these relatively big spenders accounted for 82% of Twitter ad spending.

A handful of companies, including Apple, Meta, MGM Resorts, Progressive, and Warner Bros Discovery, took it a step further, each spending more than $10mm.

This tells us that Twitter remains in play for advertisers with deep pockets, which makes sense since smaller advertisers generally don’t have the risk appetite required to stomach an investment in Twitter. 

Frankly, there are safer bets out there—think Facebook and OTT—during a time when advertisers have to maximize their budgets.  

What’s telling is that most Twitter advertisers are spending less than $50k. That said, the fact that these advertisers accounted for just 4% of spending gives us a pretty good idea of what most advertisers are thinking.

They’re waiting to see what happens.

While Twitter has certainly fallen off in recent years, it’s still a significant player in the social world. 

The lingering ad spending despite so much uncertainty surrounding the platform strongly indicates that advertisers without big budgets are in a holding pattern.

The next few months will be extremely telling.

The Elon Effect

After months of back and forth that included bot concerns, a “rescinded” offer, and a whistleblower, Twitter stockholders officially approved the acquisition

While the Elon saga has brought Twitter into the headlines and given the oft-struggling platform some life, early signs suggest that the move may backfire—at least from an advertising standpoint. 

Since news broke in April, the number of Twitter advertisers has steadily declined. 

Despite an initial increase between April and May—around the time the news broke and excitement was at an all-time high—the number of advertisers spending on Twitter went from 3.9k in May to 2.3k in August. 

A lack of new advertisers supports the suggestion that the acquisition may come back to bite Twitter. 

Prior to July, more than 1k new advertisers were spending on Twitter every month. In July and August, that number dropped to 200. 

So, what gives? 

The likely answer stems from the uncertainty surrounding Twitter’s future and what will become of its advertising ecosystem now that Musk’s in control.

While the continued investment from big brands indicates that Twitter probably won’t go away anytime soon, the decline in the number of advertisers, especially new ones, is problematic.

With Musk officially at the helm, Twitter’s ad strategy should start to come into view.

As it does and advertisers respond—either by pushing further into Twitter or heading for the exit—we’ll get a much better idea of what the future holds for the once dominant social media player. 

Growing Pains at an Old Age

More times than not, growing pains are associated with early-stage startups and social platforms trying to carve out market share. 

Twitter, which is nearing its 20th birthday, is experiencing them later in life. 

That’s good and (maybe) bad.

On the one hand, it was sink or swim for Twitter; a pivot of some kind was necessary to keep it above water. Twitter decided to swim, albeit using a stroke no one saw coming.

On the other hand, it doesn’t look like advertisers are eager to give Twitter their vote of confidence—at least not yet. 

In reality, Twitter and its advertisers are in a waiting game and only time will tell what the future holds.

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