Marketers remain frustrated by Twitter’s rate limits as Meta’s Threads tries to compete for users

Advertising on Twitter is becoming a risky circus act, with marketers feeling like they’re trying to catch a slippery eel while riding a unicycle. The more they try to get a grip on it, the more it eludes their grasp.

To make matters worse, Twitter’s recent antics, which involved owner Elon Musk imposing a rate limit to users’ Twitter feeds, have introduced flaming hoops into the mix. All while Meta is looking to take advantage of Twitter’s problems by introducing a new feature to compete with Twitter’s text-based app.

Marketers find it difficult to believe Twitter can be a safe place for their ad dollars, given how tenuous it feels after the company imposed a cap on how many tweets users could view on the platform.

It has been nearly a week since the decision was announced by tweet from Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk — without further explanation. He tweeted that the cap was implemented to combat data scraping and system manipulation, and to limit Twitter to registered users only. However, given the significant impact on advertisers’ campaign reach, they expected more than just a brief tweet to address their concerns. From conversations Digiday has had with marketers, there seems to be no further explanation privately.

The number of tweets users are able to view is also based on how much you pay. Currently, those who subscribe to Twitter Blue, the subscription program the company launched in November 2022, can view up to 10,000 posts per day. Those who aren’t forking over the $7.99 per month can view 1,000 posts per day; new users can view 500 per day.

But while Musk continued tweeting updates from his personal account about cap limits, Twitter’s Linda Yaccarino stayed quiet. While her appointment as CEO last month was well-received by the industry (marketers told Digiday they were reassured by her presence at the platform), it’s no wonder they were hoping to hear from her when everything kicked off.

Winning over advertisers, cont.

“It’s yet another blow in confidence for advertisers and brands on Twitter, at a time when confidence and trust were already at what felt like an all-time low but had started to improve following the appointment of Linda Yaccarino,” said Jack Moore, head of social at Hatch Group.

Twitter did not respond to an additional request for comment.

Advertisers who recently caught up with Digiday after Cannes Lions confirmed that the one-on-one meetings Twitter held there were positive, and marketers were feeling reassured.

But this latest drama has put yet another spanner in Yaccarino’s efforts to do exactly what she was hired to do: win back advertisers. It’s almost as if Twitter has taken two steps forward with her appointment, and 10 steps back with the industry.

This latest predicament suggests Musk isn’t willing to empower Yaccarino to improve Twitter and ultimately regain trust with users, brands and advertisers, said Annie-Mai Hodge, director and founder of Girl Power Marketing.

“What was the point of hiring Linda (other than as a publicity stunt to try and increase user trust), if [Musk is] not going to let her do her job, and instead, make it harder for her to rebuild that trust?” said Hodge.

However, Yaccarino stood by the rate limits when she tweeted a link to Twitter’s official statement on the matter five days after Musk announced them.

“Any advance notice on these actions would have allowed bad actors to alter their behavior to evade detection,” the company said in its statement.

Another ‘wait and see’ Twitter moment

While it appears that a general “wait and see, but monitor closely” approach has been taken by most, Justin Nerdrum, owner of business development and digital marketing firm Nerdrums said if he can’t reach his ad frequency targets with these limitations, he will be pulling budget from Twitter and reallocating it to another channel, though didn’t specify how much or which ones.

“I can imagine that conversations are being had in marketing teams across the world this week about whether Twitter is a safe place to invest their advertising budget and if not, which channels will offer a better alternative,” Moore added. “Elon Musk’s chaotic approach to running Twitter will only put more money in the pockets of his competitors.”

It won’t take too long to find out if this is indeed true. Meta launched its Twitter rival Threads this week, a text-based conversation app that allows users to compose and share messages in real time, which could become a safe haven for users and subsequently marketers who have grown tired of how enigmatic Twitter has become. 

In fact, the launch compounds the fact that Twitter was, and still is, in a precarious position. Only last month, The New York Times reported that the text-based app’s U.S. ad sales had plunged 59% since last year — a clear indication that while advertisers might be back, they aren’t spending anywhere near the amounts they were. Added to that, Platformer reported that Twitter has stopped paying bills, including its Google Cloud contract, which was up for renewal on June 30, as well as delaying payments to Amazon Web Services.

“Love him or hate him, Elon Musk is a force of nature and it was always going to be difficult for Linda Yaccarino to truly become the number one at Twitter whilst Elon is still involved,” said Moore.

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