Twitter wants advertisers to pay for the privilege of advertising

In a move that seems destined to further alienate an advertiser base that’s dwindling by the day, Twitter is now apparently demanding that advertisers must subscribe to either Twitter Blue or Verified Organizations to continue advertising on the platform.

Several Twitter followers, including well-known social media expert Matt Navarra, posted screenshots of a letter from Twitter saying that subscription to one of those services is required to continue advertising. The letter contains the heading “Building a better Twitter through verification.”

“This change aligns with Twitter’s broader verification strategy: to elevate the quality of content on Twitter and enhance your experience as a user and advertiser,” it reads in part. “This approach also supports our ongoing efforts to reduce fraudulent accounts and bots.”

Twitter said that any advertiser spending more than $1,000 per month with the platform is unaffected by the policy change. It said that subscribing to either one of those services means they have been “verified by Twitter as a real person and/or business.”

The letter to advertisers came one day after Twitter owner Elon Musk threw the platform into further disarray by stripping former verified users of their blue checkmark, a decision that could conceivably lead to a flood of imposters presenting themselves as celebrities, sports stars, government leaders, etc.

Ironically, the platform seems to have allowed some of its best-known users, including NBA star LeBron James and author Stephen King—both of whom publicly stated their intention to not pay the subscription fee—to retain their blue checkmark.

King clarified that he did not pay for the service in a tweet on Thursday evening: “My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t. My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.” Musk himself confirmed that he’d allowed King to retain his blue checkmark with a tweet reading “You’re welcome namaste” followed by a praying hands emoji.

But Musk hasn’t been nearly as cordial with advertisers since taking over the platform in November. Earlier this month, Reuters said that the platform’s ad business is facing a “slow recovery,” citing a report from research firm Insider Intelligence, which slashed its forecast for Twitter’s global ad revenue by 37% to $2.98 billion—down from $4.41 billion in 2022.

Citing Sensor Tower data, it noted that prominent companies including Mondelez International, Unilever, and Coca-Cola—all of which had been among Twitter’s top 10 advertisers prior to Musk’s takeover—were no longer in the top 50 advertisers in the past two months.

But the latest decision seems to be aimed squarely at the SMBs (those spending less than $1,000 per month) that make up a significant part of the platform’s advertiser base. As expected, an enquiry sent to the platform’s press email asking about the validity of the letter and advertisers’ response, was greeted with nothing more a single poop emoji.

Which seems entirely apt for a business that seems to be going down the toilet.

Chris Powell