“Getting a Twitter rep to respond on advertising was always difficult,” said David Herrmann, a social-media ad buyer. “But lately our emails have been falling into the abyss.”
Of the half-dozen Twitter advertisers I interviewed for this story, nearly all experienced a meaningful decline in service after the company’s layoffs. “We had a couple of Twitter reps and they were like, ‘nothing’s changed,’” said one auto advertiser. “A few weeks later, there was another round of layoffs and they were gone.”
In place of standard communication from Twitter sales reps, advertisers have been sending emails into the void—including to laid-off employees’ inboxes—hoping someone will answer. Sometimes replies come, but often after long waits. The lack of responsiveness has left risk-averse advertisers feeling vulnerable, and some have decided it just isn’t worth it. “We’ve pulled out of Twitter for all our paid media,” said the auto advertiser. “It was never a big part of the spending plans but now it’s zero part.”
Given that Twitter’s ad systems are largely automated, its sales reps play a crucial role in answering advertiser queries about ad delivery, bugs, and new products. This interaction is a fundamental reason why Twitter makes money, especially given its limited audience and technical capabilities. “You want to have that line of communication open,” said Eric Seufert, an investor whose companies advertise on Twitter.
Twitter’s ad reps also sell the company against Google and Facebook, a task that takes heavy lifting. The two tech giants have such finely honed systems that advertisers can comfortably spend knowing their dollars will turn into revenue, but this isn’t the case at Twitter. “At Google, you could not show up and the money would still fly through the vents,” said one ex-Twitter executive. “We had to come up with more creative ideas in order to earn our fair share or more.”
It was all part of Elon Musk’s plan to get people to pay for Twitter Blue, the $8-a-month subscription service that, among other features, gives subscribers a verification checkmark. The rollout, like most things executed by Musk’s Twitter, is off to a rocky start: over the weekend, Twitter re-verified a slew of users who did not pay for the product—prompting several to publicly proclaim as much on the platform. “(Did not subscribe),” The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman (1.6M followers), tweeted alongside a screenshot of her badge stating she’d subscribed to Twitter Blue and had verified her phone number. “We did not subscribe to Twitter Blue,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1.2M followers) wrote Saturday. “The Universe brims with mysteries,” tweeted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (14.7M followers). “So my blue check has reappeared. I had nothing to do with that, and am definitely not paying,” Times Opinion columnist Paul Krugman (4.5M followers) tweeted, to which Musk replied with a photo of a crying baby. Twitter even re-verified accounts belonging to users who have died, like chef Anthony Bourdain and actor Chadwick Boseman.
Have you seen the people who've died who have the statement that they are verified 'because they subscribe to Twitter Blue and have verified their phone'.
Like Kobe Bryant, Steve Jobs, , Norm Macdonald, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael Jackson.