Halted Ad Spend on Twitter Highlights Brand Safety Concerns for All

Posted by Brand Safety Institute • Nov 21, 2022 1:55:32 PM

Amid the continuing upheaval at Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover, an anonymous post on the Blind website details the purported halt of ad spending on the social media platform by a “medium sized b2b tech company.” The post, from a person claiming to be “a director…running a team that deploys about $80M in ad spend/year,” claims that the company’s Twitter spend accounted for “8-10% of our media mix” and said campaigns had been running “since 2016.”

The claims in the anonymous post highlight a bevy of potential challenges that decision-makers should keep in mind with any digital ad buy, including diminished campaign performance, issues with back-end tools, lack of account support due to personnel issues and, as the post cites, “Serious band safety issues.”

I’ve seen a lot of technical and ideological takes on Elon Twitter but wanted to share the marketing perspective. For background I’m a director at a medium sized b2b tech company (not in finserv anymore) running a team that deploys about $80M in ad spend/year. Twitter was 8-10% of our media mix and we have run cost per engagement (ie download a white paper, register for an event) campaigns successfully since 2016.

I had my team keep our campaigns live for 2 weeks post-takeover on the bet that efficiency would improve with fewer advertisers and the risks were managed and probably overblown. I was wrong and I think the things we saw in these last 2 weeks means many more advertisers will bail on the platform in the coming weeks (for non-ideological or virtue signaling reasons):
- Performance fell significantly. CPMs didn’t drop but our engagement went way down. Maybe it’s a shift in users on the platform, maybe it’s ad serving related.
- Serious brand safety issues. Our organic social and CS teams got dozens of screenshots of our ads next to awful content. Replies to our posts with hardcore antisemitism and adult spam remained up for days even when flagged.
- Our entire account team turned over multiple times in 2 weeks. We had multiple people (AE, AM, analyst, creative specialist) supporting our account and they all vanished without so much as an email. We finally got an email with a name for an AM last week but they quit and we don’t have a new one yet.
- Ads UI is very buggy and login with SSO and 2FA broken. One of my campaign managers logged in last week and found all our paused creatives from the past 6 years had been reactivated. Campaign changes don’t save. These things cost us real money.

The post’s first claim is that, “CPMs didn’t drop but our engagement went way down.” Performance is the primary metric any marketer needs to keep an eye on and, regardless of cause, assess whether the campaign is still delivering what the marketer is seeking.

Another item cited back-end issues, writing that the UI “is very buggy.” The post went on to state that a campaign manager logged in and “found all our paused creatives from the past 6 months had been reactivated.” The post also cited that, with Twitter’s recent layoffs and resignations, the company “had multiple people…supporting our account and they all vanished.” Both are examples of marketers not getting the support they expect from a platform, an aspect that should clearly be a factor when evaluating a campaign.

Finally, the post cited, “Serious brand safety issues,” including “our ads next to awful content” and “our posts with hardcore antisemitism and adult spam.” That’s a topic on which the Brand Safety Institute can be of assistance to marketers, with a host of resources such as checklists, best practice guides, and instructional videos from industry experts on current challenges in brand safety. Whether you use our tools or have your own, industry best practices in brand safety and suitability include ensuring that you know what your ads are appearing next to and supporting financially. Your brand’s reputation depends on it.

The BSI also offers certifications for individuals and organizations so that marketers can be out in front of ongoing challenges when it comes to protecting your brand.

Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

Topics: Brand Safety, Elon Musk, Twitter