NCR - Digital-First Banking Tracker - September 2023 Banner

X’s Advertiser Exodus Could Cost Platform $75 Million

Advertisers continue to leave X, and could reportedly take $75 million with them.

Dozens of companies have suspended ads on the platform — formerly called Twitter — since owner Elon Musk gave credence to an antisemitic conspiracy theory this month.

And as The New York Times reported Friday (Nov. 24), internal company documents show the company is in a more precarious position than had been made public. 

Those documents include a list of more than 200 ad units of companies such as AirbnbAmazonCoca-Cola and Microsoft, many of which have paused or are considering pausing their ads on X. Last week saw reports that AppleDisneyWarner Bros.SonyParamount and IBM had suspended their advertising.

According to the report, these documents come from X’s sales team and were designed to track the effect on the various advertising pauses. They list how much ad revenue the company could lose through the rest of 2023 if those advertisers do not come back.

X issued a statement to the Times saying that $11 million was at risk and the $75 million figure seen by the newspaper was outdated or part of an in-house risk assessment exercise.

The Times noted that this freeze is happening during a crucial time for X, as brands use the end of the year to promote holiday sales around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. During the closing quarter of 2021 — the last year before Musk took over and made Twitter a private company — that platform logged $1.57 billion in revenue, nearly 90% of it from its ad sales.

Though Musk has a history of quoting and liking tweets by antisemites, this latest issue stems from his reply earlier this month to a post that accused Jewish people facing prejudice as Israel fights Hamas of committing the “exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them” and supporting the immigration of “hordes of minorities.”

“You have said the actual truth,” Musk replied, drawing condemnation from critics who say the billionaire gave a spotlight to “replacement theory,” a racist and antisemitic conspiracy.

X previously suffered a mass exit of advertisers in the wake of Musk’s takeover last year, though company officials have said many of them have come back.

Musk’s current advertising troubles are happening as he tries to position X as something greater than just a social media site. In October, he told employees he expects to transform X into a payments super app by next year.