Twitter’s Ad Revenue Under Elon Musk


Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is not about recouping the $44 billion he spent on the company, but it doesn’t change the fact that he still has to pay bills and make investors whole as he reforms the business. In recent reports, Twitter’s US ad sales have decreased by 59% year-over-year despite Musk’s assurances that the platform has been regaining advertisers‘ faith.

The New York Times reported that Twitter shared an internal overview of its ad sales performance, which revealed that the total ad sales are down by 59%. The company is also consistently falling short of its US weekly sales projections, which is worse than the 50% decline Musk confirmed back in March. This suggests that businesses are still wary of Musk’s reformations on the app, including new rules around acceptable speech and reinstatements of controversial users.

The Impact of Musk’s Opinions

Muck continues to share his often controversial opinions on various hot-button topics, including gender affirmation, the war in Ukraine, the government’s COVID response, population collapse, crime, immigration, and more. While his stance on free speech is noble, it is affecting Twitter’s ad revenue. When it makes up approximately 90% of your company’s revenue, compromising on it is a challenging path to take.

The Fallout of Musk’s Twitter Takeover

Musk’s recent stance on free speech and his purchase of Twitter led to two of his top brand safety experts leaving the company. The experts wanted to support the release of a controversial anti-trans documentary, but Musk sought to reverse their decision. He demanded that the rules around such content be watered down while promoting the documentary on his profile. This led to Ella Irwin, the platform’s head of trust and safety, and AJ Brown, Twitter’s chief of brand safety, leaving the company.

Twitter’s Brand Safety Team

The departure of two top brand safety experts raises concerns among ad partners that Twitter’s brand safety team is further weakened and compromised by Musk’s ideological will. This could lead to a further decline in Twitter’s ad revenue in the coming months.

Musk’s Efforts to Augment Twitter’s Income Streams

Musk has been trying to augment Twitter’s income streams by adding new elements, primarily subscriptions. He had hoped that subscriptions to Twitter Blue would eventually make up 50% of Twitter’s revenue intake. However, even with the removal of legacy verified ticks and forcing advertisers to pay for Blue to run ads, Twitter Blue take-up has remained at less than 0.3% of Twitter’s total user base, which is equivalent to around $16.8 million per quarter.

Incoming CEO Linda Yaccarino’s Challenge

Twitter’s incoming CEO Linda Yaccarino faces a tall order to rebuild Twitter’s ad business and win back advertiser trust. She is bringing over other former NBCU ad executives to help her. However, it may be challenging, given Musk’s public advocacies for controversial approaches to certain topics. But Yaccarino has a lot of experience in building such a business, so long as she pushes back on Musk’s various whims and ensures that he doesn’t continue to spook wary brand partners.


Twitter still needs a lot of ad dollars to keep running, or it risks going out of business, even with 80% fewer staff to pay. This is the situation that Yaccarino has to inherit when she takes over at the app shortly. In conclusion, even with Musk’s stance on free speech, Twitter’s downward spiral may continue, and it may face challenges to win back advertiser trust.

New York Times
Business Standard