February 2, 2023

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Twitter tries to win back advertisers with new ‘brand safety’ deal

3 min read

Elon Musk, Twitter’s new overlord, has promised advertisers he won’t turn the social network into a “free-for-all hellscape.” But many big marketers didn’t believe him — and hundreds temporarily halted their spending on Twitter amid concerns that owning the mask would present a “brand safety” risk.

Concerns: Their ads may appear adjacent to hate speech, misinformation or other objectionable material Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech “absolutist,” reinstated thousands of Twitter accounts that had previously been banned, including those of Donald Trump; neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin; and Andrew Tate, who was arrested in Romania on charges of human trafficking and rape Last month, Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group of about 100 independent citizens, human rights and other organizations formed in 2016 to provide guidance on content moderation policies. A number of independent researchers have found that hate speech on Twitter has increased since Musk took over the company in late October; Musk has disputed the accuracy of this research.

Now, hoping to convince ad buyers that Twitter can be a clean, enlightened place to send their marketing messages, the company has partnered with third-party ad tech companies, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS). Twitter provides advertisers with new tools to measure and analyze the brand safety of ad campaigns. According to the companies, the new solutions are compliant with World Federation of Advertisers Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) standards.

“Twitter is committed to promoting a safer advertising experience for people and brands, and that commitment has never been stronger,” AJ Brown, Twitter’s head of brand safety, said in a statement. Brown, a six-year Twitter veteran, was named head of brand safety in November 2022.

Under DoubleVerify’s expanded partnership with Twitter, DV will offer in-feed brand safety and appropriateness measurement of all ad-adjacent content, including Tweets promoted to US-based ad campaigns. DV’s brand safety and suitability solution will focus primarily on Twitter’s home timeline, processing and classifying tweets directly above and below ad placement on the timeline. Finally, DoubleVerify will expand Twitter’s profile and search placement solutions. DV first partnered with Twitter in 2018 to offer fraud and viewability measurement on both display and video campaigns.

According to research firm MediaRadar, the number of US advertisers on Twitter stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2022 after a drop-off following news of Musk’s takeover. In Q2, the social network had 3,740 U.S. advertisers, down from about 3,000 in Q3 — before rebounding to 3,700 in the fourth quarter, according to the research firm’s estimates.

“Advertisers are demanding comprehensive brand safety and suitability solutions in user-generated content environments,” DoubleVerify CEO Mark Zagorski said in a statement. “Greater brand and content alignment supports campaign performance and, ultimately, delivers superior results.”

IAS, for its part, will similarly provide tweet-level analytics about content adjacent to ads in Twitter’s feed. “IAS is excited to provide our customers with tweet-level insights designed to provide more transparency into their Twitter campaigns and metrics aligned with industry standards for brand safety and appropriateness,” said Craig Ziegler, senior VP of product management.

Shortly after Musk closed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the tech mogul said the company “suffered a huge drop in revenue due to activist groups pushing back against advertisers, even though content moderation hasn’t changed and we’ve done everything we can to appease activists.” He added that activists The groups are “trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Meanwhile, since Musk took over, Twitter has lost nearly 80% of its headcount. The company has about 1,300 employees (including fewer than 550 full-time engineers), down from 7,500 previously, CNBC reported last week.

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