Twitter Seeks Out Political Advertisers

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Twitter (or X, pick your poison) is aggressively courting political ads on its platform.

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Jack Dorsey banned political ads on Twitter in 2019 because he saw them as harmful to public discourse. New management sees them differently – as desperately needed revenue.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Twitter (or X, pick your poison) is aggressively courting political ads on its platform. This marks a giant culture shift from the heady reign of founder Jack Dorsey, who banned political advertising on Twitter in 2019. Seeing as Twitter users already add copious notes that fact-check ads for consumer products on the platform, you gotta figure they won’t hold back on political ads…

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Political ads have historically brought headaches to social media platforms. When Dorsey banned political ads, he said Twitter couldn’t credibly claim it was tackling misinformation while allowing political advertisers to buy their way onto people’s timelines. “This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” Dorsey said.

How times have changed. It’s not entirely clear where Twitter’s financials stand just now — in July, owner-slash-CTO Elon Musk said the company was still in negative cash flow after a 50% nosedive in advertising revenue. CEO Linda Yaccarino said last month that she expects the company to be profitable by early 2024, and asserted that many advertisers who’d fled the platform had returned. However, ad placements on Twitter are much cheaper than they used to be, which the company is reportedly using as a selling point:

  • According to the WSJ, Twitter is cold-calling political advertising firms and national party committees. Analytics firm AdImpact told the WSJ the upcoming election cycle will generate around $1.2 billion in digital ad placements.
  • While Twitter ads can be an effective fundraising tool for campaigns, buying ad space may feel a little dicey given it’s still unclear whether Musk plans to make Twitter an entirely paywalled platform, a move which would certainly shrink its usership.

Punching Above Your Weight: While Twitter twists its way through the digital adscape, a new startup appears to be having better luck. Punchbowl News, a media startup originally targeted at Washington insiders, expects to pull in $20 million in revenue off subscriptions and ads this year, Axios reported. That’s twice as much revenue as it generated in 2021, and the company’s now looking to broaden the advertisers and sponsors it approaches.