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Twitter tries to lure brands back with spend-matching scheme

Spend $500k and we'll double your money, but please ignore the trolls

Twitter is reportedly trying to plug its drop in advertising revenues by concocting a series of inducements to convince some brands that have paused spending on the platform to reopen their wallets.

In one mailer that was dispatched to advertising agencies – seen by the Financial Times – the troubled social media biz said it was scheduled to roll out the "largest advertiser incentives ever" this month, pledging additional impressions depending on the level of budget to use.

Twitter reportedly said (paywall) it would mirror the spending of clients that pay at least $500,000 with a ceiling limit of $1 million per advertiser. Customers forking out $350,000 were told they'd get "50 percent value add", indicating they'll get extra impressions valued at half of the amount they spend. The mail also included a tier for those with a $200,000 budget, in which they can have a "25 per cent value add."

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This was backed up by a separate email to agencies that included the same offers to US advertisers, with slight modifications for advertisers in the UK willing to risk a brush with the current Twitter chaos.

According to Reuters, the offer is only valid for advertising that runs before the end of 2022.

Will they bite?

Since his purchase of Twitter at the close of October, Musk has been seemingly doing everything in his power to alienate advertisers, which are believed to account for around 90 percent of Twitter's revenue – or at least they did. 

Calls from advertising groups encouraging their customers to leave Twitter came within days of Musk's takeover, largely driven by a spike in racist language and fears that Twitter wouldn't be able to assure brand safety for its advertisers. Since then, brands including Pfizer, General Mills, United Airlines and Apple have all cut back or stopped advertising on the platform.

The situation for advertisers was made even worse when Twitter rolled out its short-lived pay-for-verification scheme that allowed anyone who subscribed to Twitter Blue for $8 a month to get a blue verification checkmark. 

Brand and celebrity impersonation began almost immediately, causing actual damage for some - insulin maker Eli Lilly reportedly lost billions of dollars when its stock dropped six percent after a Twitter troll said the company would make insulin free.

The chaos has continued since then; only a few days ago Musk picked a fight with Apple for slashing its Twitter ad spend and – according to Musk – considering pulling Twitter from the App Store. 

Two days later, and it seems Musk can be talked back from the edge by at least one person – Apple CEO Tim Cook. Describing the meeting between the pair as "a good conversation," Musk clarified Apple had no plans to pull Twitter from the App Store, striking an almost meek tone compared to accusations days before that Apple hated free speech.

As of the end of November, it's estimated that Twitter ad revenue in the EMEA region is down 15 percent year-over-year, with weekly bookings down by a whopping 49 percent. With a stated goal of turning Twitter profitable, it's looking like Musk is starting to get desperate.

Will it work? According to ad industry leaders that spoke to the Financial Times, it's doubtful – clients simply aren't willing to take the risk, one said. Another predicted the incentives will have exactly zero impact on Twitter's mission to stave off the revenue dive. Time to open that office betting pool. ®

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