Musk's X tries to win advertisers back with discounts

Plus: Did Xwitter just suggest stripping people of gold checks? Don't threaten us with a good time

The website formerly known as Twitter is trying to win back advertisers yet again with half-off deals on certain ads – and reportedly threats to remove gold checks from company profiles if advertisers don't start spending money. 

X, black-and-white branding for which unceremoniously replaced Twitter's famous blue bird over the weekend, is reportedly offering to cut the price in half for companies willing to publish video ads to run alongside trending topics in X's Explore tab. The ad buys will give brands 24 hours of placement atop X's trending topics list, and discount offers are available until July 31.

That's not the only incentive X is offering its advertisers, according to the Wall Street Journal, which viewed the internal emails sent to ad buyers. Along with the discount, X has reportedly given advertisers an August 7 deadline to spend money on the platform, or lose the gold verification checkmarks many were given with little notice in April. 

Gold-checked accounts, the color X uses to symbolize that a handle belongs to the brand it claims to be, will reportedly have to have spent $1,000 in the last 30 days, or $6,000 in the past 180 days – or risk losing their mark of authenticity. 

Your X's debts

When Elon Musk bought Twitter late last year there was a near immediate backlash from advertisers concerned with brand safety on the platform. Musk's call to turn Twitter into an online bastion of free speech, at least in the short term, did more to bring hate speech and brand impersonation to the platform than anything, leaving little wonder why so many brands paused spending with the platform and might not be too eager to give X a chance. 

With advertising previously being responsible for some 90 percent of Twitter's revenue, that's not a great way to start a takeover after saddling the company with billions in debt to help finance a $44 billion buyout.

As early as December, Twitter was frantically trying to get advertisers back onto the platform with a spend-matching scheme. It isn't clear how much of an effect that had, but in April Musk took the stage at an advertising conference to reassure advertisers that publishing ads on Twitter was perfectly safe. Musk also said Twitter wouldn't bow to pressure from advertisers upset that Musk's definition of free speech ran afoul of brand safety standards – hardly reassuring. 

Musk's replacement as CEO, Linda Yaccarino, ended up taking over in June - weeks earlier than expected, in another sign that advertising on Twitter was still in danger despite Musk's claims a month prior the company was approaching a break-even point.

Yaccarino's early arrival coincided with the departure of Ella Irwin, AJ Brown and Maie Aiyed, Twitter's heads of trust and safety, brand safety and ad quality, and manager of the brand safety partnership program, respectively. It was also around the same time that reports came out saying Twitter's advertising revenue for the first week of May was down 59 percent from the same period the year prior. 

It wasn't until this month Musk admitted that Twitter's advertising revenue had been consistently down by nearly half and that the company was still cash-flow negative. That's despite laying off half the company's staff in an attempt to preserve liquidity.

We asked Twitter – sorry, old habit – X for comment, and wouldn't you know: No poop emoji. We haven't received an actual response, but Twitter is at least trying to be a bit more adult in its dealings with the media: "We'll get back to you soon," the company told us. 

Whether there's a PR team behind that response is unknown – Twitter's comms team was caught up in the early layoffs and it's unclear whether anyone else has been hired to look after the wires. ®

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