Elon Musk Seeks to Reassure Skeptical Twitter Advertisers: “I Understand If People Want to Give It a Minute”

Elon Musk Seeks to Reassure Skeptical Twitter Advertisers: “I Understand If People Want to Give It a Minute”

In a freewheeling virtual town hall with the advertising community on Wednesday, Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk sought to assuage concerns from advertisers about the future of the platform, touching on topics like his ultimate goal for Twitter (“to serve the greater interest of civilization”) and the touchy subject of brand safety (“I don’t think having hate speech next to an ad is great”).

Hosted by Twitter’s head of ad sales Robin Wheeler, Musk was also joined in the Twitter Spaces conversation by Twitter’s head of trust and safety Yoel Roth.

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While Musk did spend some time discussing his controversial plan to verify users for $8 per month, as well as nascent plans to revive Vine (or something similar), the focus was on advertising, with IAB CEO David Cohen asking Musk questions of interest to marketers.

Joking that he was on the Twitter “complaint hotline” (or perhaps not joking, as Musk said that brands should reply to his tweets if they have concerns), Musk launched a defense of Twitter as a place for marketers to spend money, noting that the platforms moderation policies and enforcements have not changed as of yet.

“It stands to reason that if someone is advertising, then they do not want inappropriate content [next to their ads],” Musk said. “We are going to work hard that there is not, like, bad stuff right next to an ad, which doesn’t serve anyone any good.”

“We are also going to work really hard to increase the relevance of ads,” he added, noting that improving recommended ads was a top priority. “If the ad is noise, it does not serve the advertiser or the user … If an ad is highly-relevant and timely, then it is information, it is something that you might want to buy, when you want to buy it, but if it is something that you would never want to buy, then it is annoying, it’s spam.”

He also responded to a question from Wheeler asking if he had any response to marketers that had paused their campaigns on the platform. Musk previously said that Twitter’s ad revenue had fallen precipitously due to pressure from “activist groups.”

“I understand if people want to give it a minute, and see how things are evolving, but the best way to see how things are evolving is just to use Twitter,” he said. “Brands should rest-assured that Twitter is a good place to advertise, and if we see things that are creating a problem in that regard, we will take steps to address that.”

Indeed, Musk appeared to be saying all the right things that advertisers want to hear, particularly around brand safety.

“At a high-level, Twitter needs to be useful to advertisers in both the short-term in driving demand, and in the long-term, in brand safety,” he said. “When I hear brand safety, what I think I am hearing is that the brand overall is protected reputationally in the long-term.”

But Musk also addressed his other plans, including the $8 per month verification strategy, which he framed as critical to reducing bots and bad actors on the platform, as well as the reboot of Vine.

Musk says that cherging for verification “raises the costs” for bots or trolls, and adds that “we will be vigorously pursuing any impersonation or any deception.” Big brands and advertisers will also need to pay for verification, though if they are buying ad space through Twitter, they are paying the platform already.

“Over time, and maybe not that long a time, when you look at mentions and replies and whatnot, the default will be to look at verified,” he added.

As for video, Musk said that “video is definitely an area where Twitter has been historically weak, and an area where we intend to invest significantly.”

Instead of simply reviving Vine, Musk says they want to launch a “Vine-like thing reimagined for the future.” Verified users will soon be able to upload 10 minutes of high-definition video, which will expand to 42 minutes in the near future, and eventually hundreds of hours of video content.

There will eventually be creator-monetization tools, and Musk also floated the idea of eventually often bank or money-market accounts where creators could keep their funds.

But he also cautioned that he and the Twitter team will move quickly and make some mistakes.

“The intent is not to do dumb things, we are not aspirationally dumb,” he said, but he added “I am a technologist, and I can make technology go fast.”