Are You Seeing Way More Ads on Twitter? Here’s Why.
People with lots of followers used to see very few ads. That finally changed.
In late 2015, Twitter made a decision it hoped would keep its most influential users happy: It stopped showing them ads. That policy quietly continued for years — until sometime within the past few weeks.
Asked by OneZero this week why many high-profile users suddenly seemed to be seeing more ads in their feed, Twitter acknowledged that it had recently ended the two-tier system.
“Historically, people with high follower counts have seen fewer ads,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “Recently, we’ve taken a more consistent approach of showing ads to everyone who uses Twitter and as a result, people with higher follower counts will notice an increase in the number of ads they’re seeing.”
The change came late in a difficult quarter for Twitter’s business. The company’s stock nose-dove 20% on Thursday after it reported disappointing quarterly earnings. The problem was not user growth, which has been solid lately, but ad sales, which grew more slowly than expected. That was due in part to what the company called “bugs” in its ad targeting. Bloomberg’s Shira Ovide put it more pointedly: Twitter “took a financial hit because it stopped abusing people’s personal privacy choices.”
Twitter declined to say why it has started showing more ads to its power users. But it appears to have made the change not long after introducing new ad targeting processes in August that reportedly caused some advertisers to pull spending. Affected users seem to have gone from seeing either no ads or very few ads to seeing about one for every eight or 10 tweets in their feed.
Ad load, an industry term for the ratio of ads to content in a user’s feed, is one of the handiest levers that a media company can pull to boost its revenue in the short term. But it can come at a long-term cost. More ad slots mean more money, provided you have enough…