As Twitter continues to struggle with revenue issues, it is opening up new avenues for political advertising.
- Twitter announced on Tuesday that the company will be expanding the kinds of political advertising it allows on the service in the coming weeks, although it hasn’t announced its new guidelines yet.
- Axios notes that these new guidelines will be a boon for Twitter and for advertisers, as FEC guidelines require some level of transparency for political advertising—and Twitter already labels all of its advertising.
- The move is being generally welcomed by critics of Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter as a step to allow greater promotion for political advocacy on the social media giant.
Why it’s Important
The move to relax guidelines against “cause-based” advertising may serve to boost revenue for the website as it continues to struggle with finding new advertisers. The company has lost more than 50 of its top 100 advertisers, according to NPR. Some have considered returning to the app but are waiting to see if content moderation can be restored in the coming months.
Appealing to political causes and advocacy groups may be a profitable alternative to big-name advertisers and help the company recoup losses.
“We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US. We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks. Moving forward, we will align our advertising policy with that of TV and other media outlets. As with all policy changes, we will first ensure that our approach to reviewing and approving content protects people on Twitter. We’ll share more details as this work progresses,” says Twitter.
Positive Response From Critics
The decision is being praised by some progressive advocacy groups, who have criticized Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter. Many progressive groups were directly affected by the previous platform owner’s decision to ban all political advertising in 2019 and see the new rules as an opportunity. Progressive activist Laura Packard praised the move as “actually a good call at Twitter. Kinda shocking.”
“Under Twitter’s previous policy, a company like ExxonMobil could advertise its work with very few limitations, but climate advocacy groups were restricted from running any advertising that held polluters to account. While we are excited to have this tool back in the toolbox, the current unpredictability of Twitter’s direction makes it a less than the brand-safe environment,” says Rising Tide Interactive VP Jake Sticka.
The tradeoff may be underwhelming, though, earning meager advertising dollars for more political tension. Former Twitter’s CFO Ned Segal says that before the banning of political content, political advertising accounted for less than $3 million of Twitter’s revenue in 2018.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey noted in October 2019 that Twitter’s banning of political advertising helps mitigate risks of monetary influence and artificially inflated reach, saying “paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.”