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: Twitter’s advertiser exodus benefits TikTok, Reddit and Snapchat, data suggest

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In the two weeks since Elon Musk tried to reassure advertisers that Twitter wouldn’t turn into a “free-for-all hellscape” under his ownership, a number of those advertisers do not appear to be taking him at his word.

Pfizer
PFE,
+0.46%
,
General Motors
GM,
+3.47%

and United Airlines
UAL,
+0.86%

are just a few of the brands that have said they were pausing their ad spending on the social-media platform following Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. Major ad agencies are recommending that their clients hit the brakes as well.

Now we have some data about where that spending might be going instead.

Twitter rivals like Snapchat
SNAP,
+7.92%
,
Reddit and TikTok all saw an increase in advertiser activity during the month of October, according to figures shared with MarketWatch by the web-analytics platform Similarweb. During that time, Twitter’s ad portal saw its traffic drop by roughly one-fifth, while some competing platforms saw traffic spikes that were twice as large or more.

A profile linked to Twitter’s communications team did not immediately respond to a direct message seeking comment on the data.

The moves are happening during a time of increasing uncertainty in digital ad markets, which have been affected by the rocky post-pandemic economy as well as by the debut of Apple Inc.’s
AAPL,
+1.93%

new App Tracking Transparency software last spring. The software, which limits the amount of tracking and targeting that social-media platforms are able to do while running on iOS devices, hit some particularly hard: Meta
META,
+1.03%

CFO David Wehner said in a recent earnings call that the change is estimated to have cost the company $10 billion in revenue this year.

That makes boycotting Twitter a fairly low-stakes move, some marketers recently told Digiday. On Nov. 4, Musk tweeted that the platform had seen “a massive drop in revenue” since his takeover, a trend he blamed on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.”

In order to learn where those advertisers might be taking their money, Similarweb measured web traffic leading to the advertising portals of major platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest
PINS,
+4.45%

and Snapchat. Then the company compared the traffic figures from October 2022 against the same figures from October 2021. The company found a roughly 19% year-over-year drop in visits to Twitter’s ad portal, from 2.6 million to 2.1 million.

Figures shared with MarketWatch showed that advertisers were flocking to the ad pages on competing platforms such as TikTok, whose year-over-year traffic jumped by roughly 60%, and Reddit, whose ad-portal traffic went up by nearly 50%. LinkedIn, meanwhile, saw a jump of roughly 23%, and Pinterest saw an increase of about 8%.

In a week-by-week breakdown, Similarweb analyst David Carr noted that Twitter’s ad portal has seen a steady drop in activity since mid-September. Carr pointed out that this drop coincided with a series of court proceedings that “seemed increasingly likely to result in [Musk] being compelled to complete the acquisition.”

Musk’s attempts to assuage advertisers’ concerns — including an hourlong chat he hosted on Twitter earlier this week — have so far fallen flat. Unless Twitter’s new owner finds a new tactic, there’s a chance some of those advertisers might be gone for good.

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