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Elon Musk needs Twitter advertisers, but they’re not coming back

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Elon Musk needs Twitter advertisers, but they’re not coming back

There’s no getting around it. Twitter’s survival in the coming months depends on how its new owner, Elon Musk, manages his relationship with a key group of people: advertisers.

It’s been a rocky pairing since October, when Musk officially took over and many big-name advertisers paused spending on the platform. Almost five months later, the company’s standing with the advertisers that historically make up 90 percent of its revenue still hasn’t measurably improved.

More than half of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers before the acquisition have stopped advertising on the platform as of February, according to data from digital marketing analysis firm Pathmatics and shared with Vox. Out of Twitter’s top 10 advertisers pre-acquisition, only six still advertise on the platform, according to the firm. That affects Twitter’s bottom line: The company’s revenue was down by 40 percent, according to a December report by the Wall Street Journal. Fewer people also appear to be visiting Twitter’s website where advertisers create ad campaigns: The number of users visiting Twitter’s advertising portal page was down 18 percent in February compared to a year before, according to data from digital intelligence firm SimilarWeb.

Vox spoke with several advertising executives, former Twitter employees, and other industry insiders who explained why Twitter’s relationship with advertisers continues to suffer.

Sources described a lack of confidence in Musk’s ability to keep his promises about stopping Twitter from turning into a “free-for-all hellscape,” high turnover in Twitter’s sales department, and confusion about the company’s policies regarding content moderation.

Chief among their concerns is a perception that Musk has turned Twitter into a place where people can post racist, sexist, or otherwise harmful speech without much consequence. Major corporations don’t want to jeopardize what they call “brand safety” by associating with offensive content. Musk has taken a lax approach to content moderation — such as allowing Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other controversial figures back on the platform in the name of free speech.

Companies also worry about affiliating with Musk himself as he continues to post offensive tweets, including a recent one mocking a disabled Twitter employee (Musk apologized after facing widespread backlash). Making matters worse, some advertising executives say they no longer know who to talk to about their concerns because Musk has fired or laid off many key members of Twitter’s sales and brand safety teams. All of this, insiders say, has resulted in weaker trust in Twitter among a relatively small group of people who control major ad budgets.

“Elon doesn’t understand how advertising works,” said Lou Paskalis, a longtime ad industry executive and founder of AJL Advisory, a firm that consults with brands on their marketing strategies. “I think he thinks it’s a science first and then an art, when in fact, it’s an art first and then a science.”

Twitter did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Musk, however, discussed the company’s relationship with advertisers who may be hesitant to return to the platform in an interview at a Morgan Stanley conference earlier this month.

“What I’d say to advertisers and brands is: Use Twitter for yourself and believe what you see on Twitter, not what you read in the newspapers,” said Musk. “Because what you see on Twitter is the real thing and what you read in newspapers is not.” Musk said that hate speech on Twitter is actually lower than it was before he took over and that brands worried about their reputation can choose what kind of tweets they want to run their ads next to. Several recent outside studies have found a sustained increase in hate speech such as anti-LGBTQ and antisemitic slurs in the months since Musk took over, but Twitter has said that the “reach” of hate speech, or how much it’s being seen, has decreased (which is hard to verify independently without access to Twitter’s data).

In the end, Twitter needs advertisers more than advertisers need Twitter. Compared to Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, Twitter has a much smaller, niche user base. Brands can easily shift their advertising budgets to the bigger players in social media. Whether or not Musk can win back brands — or figure out a feasible alternate plan to make money — will determine whether the company will ultimately go bankrupt. While Musk says Twitter is close to breaking even now that he’s drastically cut costs, he warned in November of the possibility of bankruptcy, and will see that risk increase if advertisers fail to return.

Although Twitter is smaller than its competitors, it has had an outsized influence in shaping world politics, news, and culture. So the precarious state of Twitter’s finances ultimately reflects the fragility of the future of Twitter itself and the future of discourse online, since there still isn’t a replacement nearly as popular.

“I don’t trust Elon at his word”

The advertising business — especially the kind of big-brand advertising that happens on Twitter — is built on establishing close working relationships between powerful advertising execs who control multimillion-dollar marketing budgets and the people who run Twitter’s sales team.

But many of those relationships have deteriorated in the past few months as the initial uncertainty around Musk’s takeover has turned into more permanent chaos.

One advertising executive who oversees tens of millions of dollars in ad spending for major brands on Twitter told Vox that a majority of their clients temporarily paused spending on Twitter in the 72 hours after Musk took over “just to avoid being caught up in something unpredictable” but thought that the situation would settle down. (This source spoke with Vox on the condition of anonymity due to fear of professional repercussions.)

“There’s a lot of noise in this industry,” they said. “If a platform is having issues and bad things are happening, you stop and wait for the issues to go away,”

But then, new issues emerged. Mass layoffs and resignations hit key leaders on the sales and brand safety teams. Musk began abruptly rolling out controversial product and policy changes, like the botched initial rollout of his Twitter Blue verification service which people used to impersonate public figures, or his “general amnesty” plan to reinstate thousands of accounts that were previously banned for things like hate speech or bullying. At the same time, Musk himself kept fanning flames by posting polarizing tweets, like a conspiracy theory about the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. And so a majority of clients extended their Twitter spending pause.

In recent months, Twitter has offered steep discounts and promotions, the advertising executive said, to encourage clients to resume advertising. But advertisers are reluctant to make deals when they don’t know who they’ll be working with.

“I don’t know if the person I’m negotiating with today will be there today, tomorrow, or by the end of the week,” the ads executive said. “Trust is such an important currency in advertising. I don’t trust Elon at his word.”

If advertisers don’t trust Musk, it would help if he had a reliable lieutenant. But many trusted executives — even some who Musk initially praised — have left the company, including chief customer officer Sarah Personette, head of trust and safety Yoel Roth, and VP of client solutions Robin Wheeler. Several sources Vox spoke with were unsure if recently appointed sales head Chris Riedy is still working at the company. News outlet Platformer reported in February that Riedy was cut in a recent round of layoffs, but other sources close to the company said he is still working at Twitter.

Twitter has also halted a practice that’s an industry standard: convening its advertising influence council, a quarterly group meeting with around three dozen top advertisers, according to sources. The council was an important venue for Twitter execs to discuss “real business issues” with some of its biggest advertisers, said Paskalis. It allowed Twitter executives to build key relationships over time with powerful chief marketing officers of major brands and ad agency executives. When prior Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with the council, for example, he explained his mission to make Twitter a global town square while still balancing user safety, Paskalis said. Musk met once with the council in November shortly after he took over, but according to Paskalis, the group has not met since.

Making things more complicated is how Musk initially took a publicly combative approach, at times, to the same advertisers Twitter needs to woo. In November, he publicly threatened to “thermonuclear name & shame” advertisers who left Twitter.

“There are other places I can spend my money without having to worry that I’ll be attacked by Elon, or my clients will be, or that he will say something that will force me to turn off my ads,” one advertiser said.

Musk, who has long been a provocateur on social media, has shown no signs of buttoning up his public persona to minimize advertiser fallout. In recent weeks, in addition to his public dispute with a disabled former Twitter employee, he has tweeted comments defending the “QAnon Shaman” who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and shared a sexist joke meme comparing women to volatile “creatures.”

“What we hear from Elon every single day gives us new outreach and entree to advertisers,” said Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights group Color of Change, which is pressuring advertisers to drop Twitter because it says the platform is promoting harmful content.

Robinson said his group is planning to increase pressure on advertisers that continue to stick with Musk.

What Twitter could do to save its business

It’s clear that Twitter needs to change its advertising approach if it’s going to keep the lights on. Musk has tried changing the company’s strategy to rely less on big-name brand advertisers. But the easiest solution would be to salvage Twitter’s relationship with brands — which some executives said is still possible if Musk gives up control.

Musk has his own ideas about how to make Twitter more profitable.

At first, Musk’s plan to deal with advertiser fallout was to become less reliant on advertising. Musk said he wanted to move Twitter to a subscription-based model in which the company would make most of its money by charging users for premium services. The problem is that Musk’s first attempt at that, its revamped version of Twitter Blue, had a disastrous initial rollout and, so far, still doesn’t have nearly enough subscribers to make a meaningful impact on the company’s bottom line (as of mid-January, it reportedly had 180,000 subscribers, or about 0.2 percent of the platform).

More recently, Musk has proposed another solution to his advertising problem: targeted advertising. The idea is that Twitter should make ads more specific to users’ interests based on what they’re tweeting about and by using machine learning to predict their preferences.

“Historically, with [Twitter’s] advertising being mostly irrelevant in the past, we’ve been wasting people’s time. And that’s not good. Going forward, Twitter will have very relevant, useful advertising,” Musk said at the Morgan Stanley conference earlier this month, saying this new approach will bring a “massive increase in revenue.”

Twitter’s new advertising model will be similar to Google’s in that it will target ads to people based on what they’re interested in, Musk said.

Many people with knowledge of the online ads industry — including former Twitter advertising and product employees Vox spoke with — agree with Musk that Twitter’s advertising products have room for improvement. But some questioned whether Musk’s approach made sense, since Twitter, unlike Google and Facebook, has less data it can use to target ads.

Facebook knows people’s backgrounds, friends, and interests because people largely use their real name to sign up and are friends with their real-world connections. Google knows its users’ interests based on what they’re actively typing in their search bar. Twitter, by contrast, doesn’t have all of that information for most of its users, since you don’t need to share your real name to make an account and most people passively scroll Twitter rather than search for specific content.

“Search advertising and advertising on Twitter are just different models altogether. It’s not even an apples-to-oranges comparison, it’s just completely different,” said Jason Goldman, the former VP of product at Twitter from 2007 to 2010. Goldman said Musk’s comments about making Twitter’s ads more like Google’s “reveal a pretty profound ignorance of how the online advertising industry has evolved in the last 20 years.”

Twitter also doesn’t have nearly the number of users that Facebook and Google have. And while Musk claims that Twitter’s daily active users are higher than ever, the latest outside estimates are mixed. Two analytics firms, SimilarWeb and Pathmatics, show a drop in Twitter’s user growth year over year in the past few months. Another firm, however, Apptopia, showed slightly higher numbers in the past three months when compared to the year prior.

Despite all the challenges, there may be some hope for Musk to regain trust with advertisers. The CEO of one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, WPP, recently said that Twitter “seems to be a lot more stable the last few months than perhaps it was toward the end of last year” and that “clients want to start to look at how they can come back onto Twitter.” An executive at another major advertising firm, Publicis, made similar comments in December, leaving room for its clients to return to the platform.

In recent weeks, Twitter announced new tools it’s working on that let advertisers make sure their ads aren’t shown next to controversial tweets — a sign that it’s trying to entice advertisers who are spooked about brand safety. It may take time to win them over: “There’s just very little trust at the moment in Twitter’s ability to actually follow through on those moderation promises,” said Ruben Schreurs, chief product officer at the ad media consultancy firm Ebiquity.

To regain trust, some ad executives see a simple solution to Musk’s problems: Find a new CEO. If Musk resigned, as he said he would by the end of this year, that would go a long way to alleviate advertisers’ concerns, sources said.

“He should resign as CEO, stop tweeting, become chair, appoint a board, and put in a governance structure,” said one advertising executive. But the problem is, they said, that “Twitter is now so fundamentally broken that even if you’ve got a new CEO, I’m not confident that that CEO will be around for a month.”

There may even be a middle ground: Musk could remain CEO if he publicly backs and commits to a sales leader with “gravitas” who commits to “very clear, well-informed standards for advertising on Twitter.” Then advertisers “will gladly start to return,” said Schreurs. “I’m pretty sure about that.”

In his conference call with Morgan Stanley, Musk said that Twitter was close to breaking even in profitability by the end of the year. While that may be true at the moment because of how aggressively Musk is cutting costs, he’ll need to also increase revenue to keep Twitter afloat.

If Musk doesn’t change his advertising strategy, we may continue to see a degraded, or all-out denigrated, Twitter. Already, Twitter is having reliability problems, with an uptick in network outages and product glitches. That will only increase if the company can’t afford to pay its staff to run the site well.

One former employee on Twitter’s sales team who spoke with Vox on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions said that when Musk took over Twitter, they were initially hopeful that he might be able to energize the company’s advertising operations and make the company more profitable and competitive.

Instead, Elon is “crushing the company and everything that it built,” they said. “For what end, I don’t know.”



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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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