More free speech, paid blue ticks: What advertisers can expect from Elon Musk’s Twitter

Industry experts say the new boss of the social media giant has expressed his commitment to make the platform less polarised and safer, which would be ideal for most brands to associate with

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: Nov 1, 2022 8:22 AM  | 4 min read

Since Elon Musk (finally) completed his acquisition of Twitter hours before the deadline stipulated by courts to complete the deal, the internet has been rife with what the world’s richest man has planned to change on the “global public square”, a place he’s promised to make “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”

Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and CCO, White Rivers Media, says that Musk acquired Twitter because he thought the Internet needed a town square where all views are respectfully heard, and everyone knows that communications flow on Twitter. “Knowing that Twitter will implement content moderation policies that don't curtail the audience's right to free speech will empower people to look at the platform with new vigour. Opening the platform and not enforcing strict measures on the accounts while adhering to the rules and regulations might be an image makeover step for the platform,” he states.

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Musk shelled out an apparently inflated USD 44 billion to acquire the social media platform, and while sources have varied ideas on how, all agree that the Tesla and SpaceX owner is going to make some drastic changes to make good on the deal, from laying off a significant portion of Twitter’s workforce (most of whom won’t enjoy the golden parachutes snagged by former CEO Parag Agarwal and other top execs) to starting a subscription service for the “free platform” to perhaps other more radical steps.

Musk has tried to allay these fears, as previously reported by this publication, by directly addressing advertisers. As Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers, points out, “In a recent note to the advertisers, Elon Musk spoke about his belief in the relevancy of ads and the fine line between ads being either content or spam. With this, he’s trying to ensure that the brands and marketers aren’t spooked off the platform, as advertising is Twitter’s primary source of revenue. Also, he has committed to make the platform less polarised and safer, which would be ideal for most brands to associate with.”

Indeed, the quality of content on Twitter, already mired with accusations of peddling to bots and exploitative media, is something that has different corners of the internet up in arms. While some worry that Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” will bring down the limited moderation the site currently employs, others are celebrating the fact, having already started to flood Twitter with hate speech and other inappropriate content, as reported by several media outlets.

Just last month, over 30 major brands pulled their advertisements off Twitter as their ads and profiles appeared next to posts and media depicting child sexual exploitation. Since Musk’s takeover, major auto manufacturer GM, among others, have also paused their advertising on Twitter, adopting a “wait and watch” approach.

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Perhaps it is because of this that Musk is looking at alternative revenue streams for a platform that is almost completely dependent on advertising for revenue. According to reports, Twitter’s new leadership is considering charging users a fee to maintain their blue verified check marks on the platform.

According to The Verge, Twitter employees were reported to be given a deadline to launch the paid verification feature by November 7 or be dismissed. Currently, the monthly price for the service is $5. The Verge has reported that Twitter could raise the price to $20 a month. Musk himself confirmed that Twitter is revising its user verification process, especially given the near cult status that Twitter users have bestowed on the Blue Tick.

Keerthi Kumar, Business Head, South, FoxyMoron notes, “Musk  been in favour of a subscription service for users could be a game changer as it would be an interesting turn for the platform to bring down the dependency on advertising. If the huge percentage of dependency comes down, it could lead to better quality and that could be a future that we all can look forward to or it could just be wishful thinking.”

Ashish Seth, Creative Head, Optiminastic Media, chimes in saying that Twitter has kept its ad offerings as non-intrusive as possible, and with Musk taking over, he anticipates a change in that trend.

“I believe that Musk is likely to open new avenues and explore new methods in the near future while keeping the already existing system largely undisturbed. I believe that as a result of the new guidelines, the response and resolution time for complaints will decrease and the rules around the moderation of content will be more liberal than before. Advertisers and agencies are surely inquisitive about the impact of these changes on the costs and returns of advertising,” says Seth.


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