X marks the spot: what does Musk’s “future of social media” look like?

X Marks the Spot

In July, Twitter officially announced a rebrand to ‘X’, claiming it as…“a major milestone towards our vision for what the future of social media looks like. A future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking”, likely inspired by the domination of WeChat in the Chinese market. Here, one month on from announcement, we look at what X’s vision for the future could mean.

What does this mean in the long term?

Elon Musk has made no secret of his desire to create an all-encompassing central platform for social messaging, content consumption and commerce however, given Western consumer hesitance around in-stream payments, it is likely to take some time before his ‘everything app’ comes entirely to fruition. There is also likely to be competition with Meta’s release of Threads, as well as TikTok’s addition of text-only posts – albeit Meta will have to move fast on retaining audiences on Threads, with active user numbers dropping from 49m in the week of its release, to approximately 9.6m at the start of this month.

 

What is the potential impact on advertisers?

In short, the answer is very little – for now. X has clarified that the rebranding “has no material impact on advertisers. It’s business as usual”. This will be music to the ears of brands that have seen success on the platform, alongside the rollout of its unique Adjacency Controls – pre-bid options to help prevent ads from appearing next to keywords advertisers would like to avoid – which will further incentivise brands looking to maximise the impact of their social spend in a brand-safe environment.

X has also expanded the above, in partnership with Integral Ad Sciences providing what it describes as “Premium, vetted inventory within the context of the GARM Safety & Suitability Framework so brands can further optimise their campaigns.” Sensitivity settings and automatic Blocklists are two more brand safety features announced by X in recent weeks, highlighting the focus of the platform’s new leadership in addressing any lingering brand safety concerns advertisers may have.

It does of course remain to be seen how these brand safety features would work in the future growth of X, particularly if we do eventually see a shift towards a more all-encompassing ‘WeChat style platform’, however this is likely still a long way away.

X has started to push ad incentives around major events, such as the Women’s World Cup, looking to claw back its overall reduction in ad revenue intake, and will continue to push core advertising opportunities alongside its rebrand, with new X CEO, Linda Yaccarino reporting that more advertisers are now coming back, bringing the company close to “break even”.

It is still too early to see the full impact of the rebrand on the overall userbase, however, advertisers that have remained active on Twitter have continued to see ad engagement similar to pre-rebrand levels but have experienced lower CPMs. This is mainly due to advertisers ceasing ads when Musk purchased the social platform. We will continue to monitor any changes to demographics, as well as staying abreast of any new product rollouts which could incentivise advertisers to increase investment in the platform.

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