News Publishers' Twitter Ad Spend Down 83%, Study Finds

New findings from advertising intelligence platform MediaRadar reveal an alarming 83% year-over-year decrease in news publishers’ Twitter ad spend from January 1, 2022 through February 28, 2023.

Since Twitter CEO Elon Musk bought the microblogging platform in October 2022, he has drastically transformed Twitter’s overall relationship with journalists and major news outlets from amicable to unpredictable and unhinged. 

In recent months, Musk has openly criticized The New York Times after it said it wouldn't pay more money for a gold check mark on the platform, aligning itself with Los Angeles Times, POLITICO, BuzzFeed and Vox. 

Musk also introduced unfounded “government-funded” labels for select media outlets like NPR, PBS and BBC, lumping them into the same category as Chinese and Russian propaganda reports. PBS and NPR have since left Twitter, pausing tweets with no plans to resume at this time. 

“It genuinely breaks my heart watching news orgs figure out whether to stay on this platform,” tweeted Lara Cohen, who formerly ran Twitter’s partnerships and marketing. “Newsrooms and journalists have always been the lifeblood of this place.” 

By analyzing ad spend from 17 U.S. news outlets, including Axios, CNN and HuffPost, MediaRadar found these publishers collectively spent around $12.4 million on Twitter ads in 2022. 

From January to February 2023, however, the ad expenditure plummeted to around $279,000, marking a sharp decline from the $1.7 million spent during the same period in 2022. 

This represents over an 80% decline year-over-year, which MediaRadar CEO and co-founder Todd Krizelman attributes partly to worsening economic conditions in 2023, adding that “the conflict between Elon and news publishers certainly won’t help the decline.”

News publishers aside, overall ad spend has dropped significantly on Twitter. Hundreds of advertisers paused spending on the platform in the weeks after Musk acquired Twitter. Many of them still have not returned. 

From September to October of last year, the top 10 advertisers on Twitter spent $71 million on ads. In the past couple of months, that figure has dropped to just $7.6 million –– a decline of 89%, according to research firm Sensor Tower.

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