CEO Linda Yaccarino and others at X (formerly Twitter) have repeatedly tried to boast that advertisers are returning to the platform, but a new Media Matters analysis tells a different story: Since Elon Musk took over the company, it has earned 42% less ad revenue and had 28% fewer individual monthly advertisers than before his leadership began. Additionally, in the 12 weeks of Yaccarino’s tenure as CEO, the majority of the company’s top 100 advertisers pre-Musk spent a fraction of what they did in the 12 weeks prior to Musk’s acquisition.
For example, Visa — which Yaccarino cited as an example of a “returning” advertiser — has spent just $10 in the past 12 weeks, compared to roughly $77,500 in the 12 weeks before Musk bought Twitter.
Media Matters has been tracking advertising data on X from Sensor Tower since Musk acquired what was then called Twitter on October 27, 2022. Less than a month later, we found that 50 of the top 100 advertisers from prior to Musk’s takeover had either announced they would stop, or seemingly stopped, advertising on the platform.
Yaccarino and Musk have repeatedly claimed that advertisers that left Twitter after Musk’s acquisition are returning to the platform, despite evidence to the contrary. Yaccarino is slated on October 5 to outline the company's business plans to bank lenders who helped finance the acquisition, and Reuters reported on October 4 that X’s monthly U.S. ad revenue “has declined at least 55% year-over-year each month” since Musk’s takeover.
Yet, at Vox Media’s Code Conference on September 27, Yaccarino reiterated the claim about returning advertisers during an interview, saying that “90% of the top 100 advertisers have returned to the platform.”
But in our latest analysis, Media Matters found that the company’s ad revenue is still decimated. The company has earned an average monthly ad revenue of $69.5 million from roughly 1,900 average monthly advertisers in the last 11 months — 42% less revenue and 28% fewer advertisers than in the 11 months before Musk acquired the company.
What’s more, during Yaccarino’s tenure as CEO, the majority of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers pre-Musk have spent just a fraction — at least 90% less — of what they spent in the 12 weeks prior to Musk’s acquisition.
During the September 27 interview, Yaccarino also claimed, “In the last 12 weeks alone, about 1,500 [advertisers] have returned. So whether it is small business or big brands, right? Like AT&T, Visa, Nissan, all returning.” Of those three companies she specifically mentioned, AT&T is the only one that was a top advertiser pre-Musk, and the company has spent just $781 in the last 12 weeks — 99.96% less than the more than $1.77 million it spent during the 12 weeks before Musk’s acquisition.
Visa and Nissan are similarly spending just a fraction of what they spent pre-Musk. Visa spent just $10, and Nissan spent just $687, in the last 12 weeks — 99.99% and 99.77% less than they respectively spent during the 12 weeks before Musk’s acquisition.
According to a June report from Reuters, Yaccarino similarly boasted to investors that Walmart had resumed advertising. But Walmart spent just over $100,000 on X ads in the last 12 weeks — 91% less than the $1.1 million it spent during the 12 weeks pre-Musk.
Even the company’s top advertiser pre-Musk, HBO, spent only nearly $23,500 in the last 12 weeks — 99.9% less than the $28.3 million it had spent during the 12 weeks before Musk’s acquisition.
Yaccarino often makes empty promises that are undermined by Musk’s own behavior on the platform, and lawyers for the company have admitted that her position as CEO “will not result in a different content-moderation strategy for Twitter, a company that will still be owned by Musk and led by a person chosen by Musk.”