Research Briefing: Brands, retailers back away from X on anniversary of Musk purchase

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In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how brands and retailers are shifting away from X one year after Elon Musk purchased the platform, how Netflix plans to expand audience reach for its ad-supported tier, and how one crypto exchange hopes to spark a new wave of crypto marketing, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

35% of brands posted on X in the last month

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter — now X — and amid the platform’s change in leadership and rebranding there’s been a big drop in the percentage of brands and retailers who use the social media platform for marketing. In 2023, just more than a third of brand and retailer pros (35%) told Digiday their brands posted content to X in the past month. That’s down significantly from the nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents who said the same last year. This is according to Digiday+ Research surveys of more than 100 brand and retailer professionals conducted annually in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

What all of this likely comes down to is that brands and retailers no longer see X as a platform that is as appropriate for their brands as it once was. Musk’s policy updates and their effects on the platform’s reputation have caused some brands to pull away due to brand safety concerns. Additionally, many small-to-medium sized advertisers clutched their wallets when Musk announced last spring that advertisers who spend less than $1,000 per month on X would need to pay for verification to run ads on the site. In light of these and other changes, many marketers are reducing their reliance on X as a marketing tactic.

The stats:

  • Nearly half of brand and retailer pros (44%) said this year that X is not brand-appropriate at all or it’s not very brand-appropriate. Last year, just 10% of brands and retailers said the same.
  • The percentage of brands and retailers who aren’t investing at all in creating original content for X rose significantly this year. Nearly three-quarters of brand and retailer pros (71%) said in 2023 that they’re investing nothing at all in original content for X — up very significantly from the roughly one-quarter (24%) who said so last year.

Read more about brands’ and retailers’ use of X

Digiday+ Research digest

Ad execs are optimistic that Netflix’s plans to expand the reach of its ad-supported tier will create a more attractive inventory to advertise on. Netflix executives have said they’re in talks to strike carriage deals for the ad-supported tier with TV manufacturers and satellite TV providers. One media buyer interpreted this as a way for Netflix to boost the reach of ads in the U.S. and the U.K., where the basic subscription tier has been replaced by the ads-focused one. Not surprisingly, Digiday+ Research found lack of scale to be a top challenge marketers face on nascent ad-supported streaming platforms like Netflix Standard with Ads, which often have lower numbers of users signing on to the ad-supported versions initially.

The stats:

  • Netflix Standard with Ads launched in November and fell short of viewership guarantees made to advertisers by December. According to several agency execs, Netflix allowed advertisers to take money back for ads that had yet to run. In some cases, Netflix had only delivered roughly 80% of the expected audience, the executives said.
  • More than half of marketer respondents selected cost of media as the biggest challenge they face when placing ads on ad-supported streaming services, excluding Amazon Freevee and Pluto TV, where lack of scale was their main barrier.

Read more about marketers’ use of ad-supported streaming

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is hoping to tip off a “third wave of crypto marketing” with last week’s launch of its first global ad campaign “see what crypto can be.” The company is betting that crypto marketing can rebuild trust in a category of blockchain technology that has been plagued by recent regulatory scrutiny and legal battles. But Kraken may have an uphill battle as marketers’ and publishers’ use of blockchain technology, including cryptocurrency, is still largely abstract. That is according to Digiday+ Research’s emerging technologies series.

The stats:

  • Less than one-fifth of marketer and publisher respondents (16%) said they invest in or use blockchain technology and nearly three quarters (72%) of marketers and publishers said they don’t use the technology at all.
  • Marketer and publisher survey respondents said that their most common goal for future use of cryptocurrency is for transactions (58% of respondents chose this), with new revenue streams (50%), brand awareness (47%) and new customer acquisition (33%) also top of mind.

Read more about marketers’ and publishers’ use of blockchain

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