Brandon Doerrer
Jun 8, 2023

Media buyers skeptical Yaccarino can reverse Twitter’s ad sales plummet

The platform’s U.S. ad sales dropped 59% between early April and May from the previous year — right before Yaccarino’s first day as CEO.

Media buyers skeptical Yaccarino can reverse Twitter’s ad sales plummet

The months leading up to Linda Yaccarino’s first day as Twitter CEO have been grim, particularly for its advertising business.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Twitter’s U.S. ad sales plummeted 59% between April 1 and early May alone, revealing the extent of the damage Musk has wrought since taking ownership of the company. Twitter estimated that sales will remain down at least 56% throughout May in the weeks leading up to Yaccarino’s first day on Monday (June 5).

The pain is being felt beyond the U.S. Research firm Insider Intelligence estimates that Twitter’s 2023 global ad revenue will be almost 28% lower than last year, falling from just over $4 billion to under $3 billion.

Many advertisers were comforted by the news that Yaccarino, who boasts a stellar sales background and strong relationships with the advertising community, would come on as Twitter’s CEO. But recent revelations into the extent of Twitter’s business failures has fueled speculation that Musk may be sending her over the glass cliff. 

After seeing reports of the extent of Twitter’s plummeting ad sales, media experts told Campaign US that Yaccarino’s appointment, and her recent hire of Joe Benarroch, former SVP of comms, advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal in a business operations role, will likely have little short-term impact on the company’s struggles with advertisers — particularly when it comes to brand safety.

“I don’t believe we’re going to see any significant change in the short term to the drop in sales/advertising on the platform,” said Dave Kersey, chief media officer at GSD&M. “While Twitter hired big names in the industry to drive trust and ultimately sales, the company hasn’t taken any other important next steps for advertisers. They’ve not addressed brand safety or refined community standards…it’s a main factor in why brands left the platform.

“Matching that to recent posts from Elon, or questionable Twitter spaces announcements, it has left us on the media agency side confused about the long-term plan and if a road map even exists.”

Kersey added that agencies and brands continue to find more success on other platforms, making the need for Twitter even less clear.

“The only way, at this point, for us to relook at Twitter is if there is significant overhaul to the community standards for brand and consumer safety,” he said. “And frankly, with Elon still front and center, I don’t believe we’ll see any positive change on the platform.”

Ashwini Karandikar, EVP of media, technology and data at the 4A’s agreed, stating that recent departures from Twitter only exacerbate the brand safety concerns that are leading to declining ad sales.

“While the recent appointments of Yaccarino and Benarroch will help drive confidence… some of the persistent concerns with issues like brand safety and suitability will only heighten with the resignations of Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety and AJ Brown, Twitter’s head of brand safety and ad quality,” she said.

Irwin, who declined to state the reason for her resignation, departed on Friday (June 2) just after Musk announced that Twitter had mistakenly suppressed anti-trans documentary What is a Woman?

Doron Faktor, EVP of digital experience at Lippe Taylor, also said that media perceptions driving the current state of Twitter’s U.S. ad business are unlikely to change in the immediate term — especially with Musk still as “the face of the company.”

“His appointments, [Yaccarino and Benarroch] will still hold the 'baggage' he holds, and perceptions won't likely shift for the next one to three months until the public can truly see if it will have any major shifts on how Elon tweets, manages the company and/or the products he roles out,” he said.

For its part, Twitter is wasting no time putting Yaccarino, whose first day was Monday, in the hot seat; she started the job early after initial plans to come on at the end of June.



Campaign US

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