Elon Musk has apparently decided that one way to inspire confidence in Twitter as an advertising platform is to become an advertiser himself. Yesterday, CNBC reported that SpaceX had purchased one of Twitter’s premium advertising packages – while SpaceX rarely invests in advertising on Twitter – as Musk’s other company plans to start advertising the Starlink satellite internet to customers in Spain and Australia. According to internal documents reviewed by CNBC, SpaceX has spent $160,000 on the Twitter ad campaign so far and in total could end up investing as much as $250,000.
According to Musk, SpaceX buying this advertising package is nothing special. The SpaceX and Twitter CEO took issue with CNBC describing the ad investment as “significant.”
“SpaceX Starlink purchased a small ad package, not a large one, to test the effectiveness of Twitter advertising in Australia and Spain”, Musk tweeted. “Did the same for FB/Insta/Google.”
While Musk has more recently dealt with Twitter’s ad woes, it’s true that Musk has also been motivated this year to grow Starlink’s following. In February, Forbes reported that Starlink could generate $25 million a month if there were really 250,000 people using it, which Musk said there were. It could bring in $300 million a year, allowing SpaceX to quickly recoup the costs of launching the service, as long as Musk continues to find new customers, Forbes said.
“There’s clearly real business here, and the additional customers will continue to recoup business costs faster over time,” Forbes reported, crediting Musk with launching premium internet services that could offset even more. SpaceX’s debt quickly. These premium options ranged from SpaceX recently offering $500 per month higher bandwidth internet services for rural businesses to the most recent unveiling of $5,000 per month internet services for yachts and oil rigs.
Despite SpaceX’s interest in reaching more customers, Twitter has rarely been considered a source of new customers by SpaceX. Current and former SpaceX employees told CNBC that “SpaceX hasn’t typically bought big ad packages from Twitter” — until now.
It could be that Musk recently learned from his position within the social platform precisely how Twitter could help his other business. Or maybe this big ad buy could be Musk’s way of showing that Twitter is still a viable platform for advertisers, once again putting his money where his mouth is.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. Twitter would have ceased to operate its communications office.
How big was SpaceX’s Twitter ad package?
Musk disputed reports commenting on the large size of the advertising package SpaceX purchased. According to CNBC, the advertising package is a campaign known as the “takeover” of Twitter.
There are two types of “takeover” packages that advertisers can purchase on Twitter. One is a trending takeover, where brands can place an ad next to trending topics. The other is a timeline takeover, where brands are assured that their ads will be on top of timelines. A timeline takeover makes a brand’s ad the first ad users see when they log in.
CNBC reported that SpaceX bought the takeover of the timeline, which Twitter described in its marketing materials as “the equivalent of a primetime TV ad or a billboard in a place where millions of people will see your brand’s advertisement”.
Musk said the roughly $160,000 spent by SpaceX is “tiny” on its books, but when it comes to how Twitter describes its own ad packages, the timeline takeover appears to be among the biggest ad packages. that SpaceX could have bought. On one of Twitter’s business pagesTwitter describes the takeover as granting advertisers access to “the most premium, high-reach placements.”
As CNBC noted, whether SpaceX’s ad investment is considered small or large, it’s not significant enough to compensate for all of the advertisers pulling out of Twitter. For someone like Musk who is forced to look at the big picture, that probably seems pretty small.
Musk insists that SpaceX has invested in advertising for Starlink on all major social platforms, and so it’s possible that SpaceX doing such a big deal with Twitter for the first time has little to do with the fact that Musk owns the platform and more with a larger supply now to drive Starlink’s growth in any way possible.
Publicly adjusting to his new role on Twitter, Musk continues to show he seems to have little understanding of Twitter’s marketing value, despite SpaceX becoming one of Twitter’s biggest advertisers. Many social media managers scoffed when Musk tweeted and then deleted a tweet claiming that “Twitter generates a massive number of clicks to other websites/apps. By far the biggest click engine on the internet. Before Musk’s tweet was taken down, Twitter users added context, checked Musk’s facts, and clarified that Twitter gets the fewest clicks compared to other social networks.
A well-known former employee who worked at Twitter from 2009 to 2014, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, perhaps best known for get the pope to join twitter— joins those calling out Musk for “lies.”
“It’s 100% false, and Twitter knows it”, Diaz-Ortiz tweeted, clarifying that Twitter doesn’t sell click-through ads because it knows it can’t compete with platforms like Facebook as a traffic generator. “Twitter has other strengths. (And marketing is so much more than clicks),” she said, forming the new owner of Twitter.
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