Walmart’s decision to quit Twitter advertising marks yet another loss for the struggling social media platform. In the midst of a crisis, it seems that old faithful Twitter can’t catch a break when it comes to keeping its advertisers. This particular controversy was sparked by none other than Elon Musk, whose divisive speeches seem to have driven Walmart and other major companies away from the platform.
Walmart is just one of several prominent brands that have disappeared from what was formerly known as Twitter. They recently announced that they will be halting their advertising on the platform due to the lackluster performance of their ads. This move, which occurred during the crucial holiday shopping season, does not signify a change in Walmart’s advertising policies, but rather a response to the platform’s underwhelming results.
Since October, Walmart has been steadily reducing its advertising spending, with the last ads being circulated around Thanksgiving Day. This decision follows a string of unfortunate events for Elon Musk, including accusations of anti-Semitism and IBM withdrawing its advertising from the platform in response. The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has also seen a rise in hateful tweets, causing further unrest among advertisers.
According to a Walmart spokesperson who spoke with the Wall Street Journal, the aim of cutting advertising costs is to align with performance indicators. This opens the door for future ads on the platform if desired, as the decision to halt advertising is not permanently tied to any specific issue.
Joe Benarroch, X’s chief of commercial operations, emphasized that Walmart has not made any platform announcements since October. However, the retail giant has been actively engaging with its community of over one million people on the platform in an organic manner.
The controversial statements made by Musk have had a significant impact on X’s ability to attract and retain advertisers. Alongside Walmart, other major companies such as Disney, Apple, and various entertainment companies suspended their advertising on the platform in November. This came shortly after Musk described an anti-Semitic remark as “the real truth” and criticized the Anti-Defamation League.
Media Matters, a nonprofit organization, reported that X had placed advertisements for certain companies next to posts supporting Nazis. This led IBM to pause its advertising spending. In response, X reviewed the report, acknowledging the validity of the concerns raised by Media Matters.
At the recent DealBook Summit in New York, Musk used explicit language in an interview to publicly criticize the advertisers who abandoned X. He defiantly declared, “If anyone tries to blackmail me with publicity, fuck off.” Musk even suggested that the advertising boycott could potentially “kill the company.”
Since Musk’s acquisition of what was then known as Twitter last year, the platform has faced ongoing challenges in retaining advertisers. Many brands have grown increasingly concerned about Musk’s approach to content management and moderation. It remains to be seen how X/Twitter will address these issues and win back the trust of both advertisers and users alike.