Twitter Launches 'Half-Ads' For Blue Subs Despite Low Adoption Rate

In haphazard attempts to monetize Twitter’s blue check mark, CEO Elon Musk announced on Thursday that Blue subscribers will now see only 50% of ads in their timelines compared to non-paying users, as well as enhanced visibility in search. 

While seeing 50% of ads may seem worth eight dollars a month for some U.S.-based users, Twitter Blue subscribers will only experience less sponsored tweets on their “Following” and “For You” timelines. 

Twitter isn’t hiding the fact that the new feature -- one that Musk has promised since November -- will not apply to ads shown on user profiles, in replies, on promoted accounts and trends, as well as promoted events on the Explore page.

Furthermore, the half-ads feature will not kick in until a subscriber’s profile has received the verification mark after review. 

“As you scroll, you will see approximately twice as many organic or non-promoted Tweets placed in between promoted Tweets or ads,” wrote Twitter, adding: “There may be times when there are more or fewer non-promoted Tweets between promoted Tweets.”

In other words, it may be difficult to measure how many ads Blue subscribers are actually seeing -- a fact that could raise concern among paying users.

Whether or not Musk clarifies the half-ads offering, Twitter Blue has not been shaping up as he hoped. At the start of the year, 180,000 people in the U.S. were paying for Blue subscriptions (or less than 0.2% of monthly active users). 

The subscription promises Twitter around $8 a month per subscriber, but with almost 300,000 subscribers worldwide, the company will only make around $28 million from subscription services in 2023 -- a small portion of Musk’s desired yearly revenue of $3 billion. 

To increase revenue and drive more companies to Twitter, Musk has also begun forcing alreadyverified businesses and profiles to pay $1,000 a month to obtain gold check marks, but many media organizations, like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, POLITICO, BuzzFeed and Vox are not paying.

The White House will also not be paying staffers for verified accounts, according to Axios. And Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James promises that he “ain't paying” either.

After swiftly removing The New York Times’ blue checkmark, Musk also slapped a “state-affiliated media” label on NPR’s account, aligning the non-profit publisher with propagandist outlets like Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua.

In addition to the new ad-related feature, Twitter has prioritized Blue subscribers’ tweet rankings in conversations and search. The support page for the Blue subscription states that if a paid user interacts with a tweet, they get a “small boost in their ranking.”

But whatever new Blue offerings Musk continues to roll out, facts are facts: less than 1% of Twitter’s monthly users have subscribed since the company rolled out the Blue subscription plan globally, according to data from Israeli analytics company Similarweb.

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