Big Brands Increase Ad Spend On Instagram, Amid X Boycott

Elon Musk’s animosity towards Mark Zuckerberg will have not been eased after reports that big name brand names have ramped up their ad spending on Instagram.

Reuters, citing new data from Sensor Tower, reported that large US companies including Walt Disney and Comcast have increased advertising spending on Instagram, after pausing commercials on X last month due to anti Semitism concerns and Elon Musk’s profanity-laced tirade against advertisers.

Earlier this week Bloomberg had reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that X is set to miss internal goals for ad revenue in 2023.

Image credit: Elon Musk/X/Twitter

Ad boycott

That report stated that X is projected to bring in approximately $2.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2023. This would be a significant slump from prior years, as X’s revenue from advertising services for the last four quarters as a public company (before the Musk takeover) had totalled $4.7 billion.

X is currently contending with an advertising boycott, after a report from Media Matters alleged that Twitter was continuing to display extremist content alongside adverts from big brand names.

After advertisers paused their ad spending, Elon Musk responded by filing a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters, claiming it had filed an “intentionally deceptive report”.

Matters were not been helped when Musk endorsed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, which he later apologised for, following a strong rebuke from the White House.

But Musk’s apology was overshadowed during his infamous appearance last month at the 2023 DealBook Summit, where he told advertisers who had suspended campaigns on X to “go [expletive] yourself.”

When Musk was questioned at the DealBook Summit about the advertising boycott, he lashed out in an expletive filled rant.

“I don’t want them to advertise,” Musk responded. “If someone is going to blackmail me with advertising or money go [expletive] yourself”.

Musk then doubled down in front of the shocked audience.

“Go. [Expletive]. Yourself,” he slowly reiterated. “Is that clear? Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience, that’s how I feel.”

He seemed to refer to Disney chief executive Bob Iger, who had spoken at the summit earlier in the day.

Musk continued to rail against Iger when he recently called for him to be fired from Disney.

Instagram benefits

Reuters said that Sensor Tower data has showed that Disney and Comcast have lifted their US spending on Meta’s Instagram by 40 percent and about 6 percent respectively in the two weeks from 20 November.

Sensor Tower’s data also reportedly showed that Paramount has tripled its spending on Snapchat.

“Brands are intelligent about these choices, and any brand safety concerns will be met with a re-allocation of budgets away from troubled platforms,” Felipe Thomaz, associate professor of marketing at University of Oxford was quoted as saying.

Disney, Comcast, Paramount and X did not immediately respond to Reuter’s requests for comment.

And in even worse news for Elon Musk, Sensor Tower’s data showed 51 of the top 100 US advertisers on X from October last year (when Musk bought the platform) have ceased their ad spending on it as of November 2023.

The platform has also seen a 16 percent decline in monthly active users since the buyout, though the user engagement has remained stable, the market intelligence firm reportedly said.

Elon Musk has previously admitted a massive decline in advertising on X, and in the summer Musk tweeted that the social media platform has lost about 50 percent of its ad revenues since he took over the company in October 2022.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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