Yves here. Perhaps I’ve been reading the wrong quick takes on GM “pausing” its Twitter ads after Elon Musk’s takeover. but the ones from politically-oriented rags were smug and unduly hopeful that GM’s caution about continuing to advertise on Twitter would presage a more general revolt to control Twitter speech, as opposed to being about more narrow but still very serious competitive concerns.
Mind you, Twitter is not Tesla…but if you think data would not be shared in the absence of GM clearing is throat, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
The fact that GM has not yanked ads suggests at least 1. It has advance ad buys it can’t easily get out of and 2. Twitter ads are sufficiently well targeted that GM thinks they are useful. Perhaps Twitter and GM can come to an agreement with some sort of Chinese wall with respect to data sharing with Tesla. But without audit rights, I’m not sure this would be adequate protection.
By Wolf Richter, editor of Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street
Automakers spend lavishly on advertising, and they advertise heavily in the social media. But now, one of the social media platforms, Twitter, is owned as of yesterday by the CEO and largest shareholder of Tesla. And the automakers that compete with Tesla, and are getting their clocks cleaned by Tesla, are now finding themselves advertising on Elon Musk’s platform. And when you think about it, that’s kind of a hoot.
No one likes to advertise on a competitor’s platform, for all sorts of reasons, but particularly because on a social-media platform, the competitor gathers the consumer tracking data and can get important insights into current and potential customers and their reactions to the products and ads – without even passing on those insights to the automaker.
Advertising on a competitor’s social media platform is a particular problem because of the vast amount of user data that those platforms collect – data on your customers and potential customers that you may actually not see yourself, unless the platform decides to share it with you.
General Motors is the first automaker out the gate: It announced on the first day after Musk closed the acquisition of Twitter that it “paused” its paid advertising on Twitter.
“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership. As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising. Our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue,” GM said in a statement emailed to CNBC.
Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram brands, among a bunch of other brands, tweeted this morning via its Citroën account, pointing specifically at the issue: “Hello to the social media platform owned by one of our competitors.”
This isn’t about advertisers’ concerns, if any, with Musk’s potential content moderation policies. Musk already tried to soothe those fears with his open letter, addressed to advertisers, that was suddenly full of lovey-dovey language, posted on Twitter, of course. “In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all.” And he said, “I very much believe that advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain, and inform you.” And he said, “Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.”
But for automakers, this is about competition and how much information you want your competitor to have about your customers, potential customers, their reactions to your products, and their interactions with you.
Ford, for example, used Twitter to promote its electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, a direct competitor to Tesla’s still unavailable Cybertruck. Ford designed a huge “reveal” campaign on Twitter, encompassing a wide variety of strategies and partners on Twitter, that Twitter itself described in its marketing post, “How Ford helped drive the electric vehicle conversation on Twitter with its F-150 Lightning launch.”
Twitter claimed that Ford reached over 1.56 billion “brand impressions” on Twitter, a 39% “EV share of voice on Twitter,” 4.5 million “livestream views,” and whatever – assuming that these weren’t all bots and fake accounts, which would be, well, a hoot, now that Musk owns the shop.
Does Ford really want Tesla to have all this data? I doubt it. But Musk bought the data, and Tesla will have it.
Over the months that Musk’s wildly entertaining takeover of Twitter has played out before us, there surely has been a lot of navel-gazing and head-scratching among automakers as to what to do with their Twitter ads, and their Twitter accounts, and their interactions with folks on Twitter.
GM didn’t just wake up this morning and suddenly realize that Twitter is owned by the guy from Tesla. They prepared for this, and they planned it, and now they’re trying to sort it out with the new owners, if there is anything to sort out. Other automakers and their ad agencies are struggling with it too – because advertising on a competitor’s social media platform is not a good proposition, and there are plenty of other places where automakers can deploy their ad dollars.
This entry is chopped? Or should I say emuskulated, like Twitter’s content moderation team. I really like that word ;).
Sorry. I sometimes launch partial posts so the article will appear in our daily 7 AM e-mail blast. I need to publish at least the headline and the excerpt and the key word. I try to put up at least a little bit of substance to encourage readers to come back. I do endeavor to get the rest of the post up ASAP.
Had an outage due to a serious electrical fault….due to HVAC company not maintaining furnace vent so moisture built up in breaker box (do not ask what architect clown put the breakers next to the vents for the gas line and furnace). Late evening electrician visit and stomach churning estimate….and real fire risk so I can’t dither. Should be able to claw it out of seriously negligent HVAC maintenance co, but I do not have time for fights like this.
Unintentionally hilarious this. The reports are that Musk paid too much for Twitter and maybe he did. But with twitter will come all those juicy files on his car competitors sitting on Twitter’s servers. It is, I suppose, as good as their customer’s database. So either his competitors continue to use Twitter while Musk – aka the Chief Twit – gets a peek at what his competitors are up to. Or else they drop most of their advertising on Twitter and go for another platform. Facebook is starting to tank so that may not be a good fit for them. I suppose that they could always go back to mailers.
They could try ad-supported Netflix, but those resorting to ads may not be the most affluent to buy modern bling-machines.
If the data is so valuable, why wouldnt the assumption be Twitter already was selling it to any company that would benefit from it? I dont really see what has changed here–a more interesting question might be, will Twitter still allow GM to advertise on its platform?
Tempest in teapot in that….GM (and Ford) marketing managers are chasing an audience that doesn’t exist: affluent, under-35, urban, avant-garde Twitter users who pine for new cars.
GM’s paying customers are more Facebook: over-35, comfortably middle class, a bit behind all the TikTok memes.
Brand “impressions” that various consulting firms push is a BS-metric.
And your view has elements of the reason that I would love for the other automakers stay on Twitter. More than ever, they would want deep audit proof (for lack of a better term at the moment) from one of these digital platforms/social media sites that they are actually reaching a claimed target.
As shaky as it was determing household reach for networks, they still had a better accuracy for reaching actual existing households – even if not as targeted.
A lot of folks whom these car companies target don’t bother with sites like Twitter. Why? They are semi-literate and stink. Plenty of other 21st century social media for these companies to access.
Okay, Slim’s stomping into the room and I have a question. Quoting from the post:
“Ford, for example, used Twitter to promote its electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, a direct competitor to Tesla’s still unavailable Cybertruck. Ford designed a huge “reveal” campaign on Twitter, encompassing a wide variety of strategies and partners on Twitter, that Twitter itself described in its marketing post, “How Ford helped drive the electric vehicle conversation on Twitter with its F-150 Lightning launch.”
“Twitter claimed that Ford reached over 1.56 billion “brand impressions” on Twitter, a 39% “EV share of voice on Twitter,” 4.5 million “livestream views,” and whatever – assuming that these weren’t all bots and fake accounts, which would be, well, a hoot, now that Musk owns the shop.”
Now, here’s my question:
How many of those “brand impressions” and “livestream views” resulted in actual sales of actual F-150 Lightning trucks?
That might not be the best example since Ford stopped accepting orders in April. So either 1) the marketing was extremely successful 2) Ford dropped the ball with its manufacturing capabilities or 3) some combination of the two
I’m curious what the marketing argument is for an electric version of a low-end-brand utility vehicle, the F-150… for the yuppie types I would expect that saying “Ford” doesn’t cut it, and shirley there’s only a narrow market for tradies (to use an Oz-ism) for whom the recharging requirement isn’t an issue.
I’m curious what the argument is for any kind of Ford F-150 truck ever being “green.”
How long do you have to drive the thing before it’s initial, huge energy debit is erased? Will it even last that long? And then disposal of the battery…
Collective insanity, posing as “saving the planet.”
The Twitter campaign is more about establishing Ford as a viable electric vehicle player than selling the Lightning. Ford has moved away from passenger cars to larger heavier crossovers, SUVs and pickups. Most current offerings are either too heavy or lack a frame to support batteries. So they need to re-engineer offerings from scratch to compete in the EV market.
Ford’s older small pickups were built on frames that could support batteries. The Lightning is a relatively simple conversion and the fastest and easiest way Ford could bring an EV pickup to market. I suspect they’ll use it as a EV learning experience and a way to establish EV competence with heavier vehicles, not as a profitable long-term product.
Forgive the observation if it strikes some more experienced regulars as naive. Does online advertising work? I had every reason to believe it doesn’t mean anything.Or, means next to nothing. Who looks at a facebook ad and is persuaded in any direction, apart from ‘ignore’? (Or, ‘report ad’, which I do for absolutely any ad I deem offensive to the human species)
You remember the brand name for ads that annoy you. Enough people forget the annoyance before the brand name.
Thanks TimH. Sorry but to me that sounds exactly like the kind of speculation advertising
executives engage in to justify their existence. I’m by no means representative, at all, but if I’m required to be exposed to an advertisment and it sufficiently irritates me I quietly make a firm decision never to purchase the product in the future.
I’ve read reports that say online advertising has been proven to be meaningless in its reach and influence. And that for this reason, virtually the entire net worth of facebook, for example, is one big bubble just waiting to be burst. So I’m wondering if there is a more constructive insight into this from the clearly informed patrons of NC. I’m not saying I’m right but in the context of this present discussion surely it’s a question that needs to be asked.
Musk and Mary Barra should have a podcast about quality control and free life insurance policy for the buyer included with every car sold.
Chinese Wall. It would be a find to name the cynic that fertilized this phrase to flower, if for one long season not done with its stink, as one of the Rules of Ethics or indeed, action.
Add it to Medicine based on Science as currently observed.
I think the report that Musk chatacterized himself as “Chief Twit” says it all.