By Nick Woodford, Content Manager at Anzu.io
On October 27, Elon Musk finally acquired Twitter after months of back and forth. Since then, he has plowed full steam ahead into his plans to transition the social media platform into the ultimate digital town hall.
A social media exodus for brands?
The stir has caused many brands like GM, which spends $1.7 million a month on Twitter, to pause their ads due to worries about anti-Semitic posts or violent language, which many fear will plague the platform — Kanye West recently had his account reinstated after being banned from Twitter for anti-Semitic posts.
This is coupled with uncertainty around Musk’s vision to pivot Twitter from an ad-funded service (last year, Twitter attributed 89% of its $5BN in revenue to advertising) to a subscription model where users pay for blue ticks along with other premium features. So far this has proved extremely troublesome with many ‘authenticated’ accounts impersonating individuals and brands. As a result, a swathe of big brands who have paused their ads are now looking to shift budgets away altogether.
Further to this, Twitter’s Chief Customer Officer, Sarah Personette, who headed up the platform’s advertising business and brand partnerships, resigned alongside the mass layoffs. In response to the adverse reaction from brands, Musk tweeted that he would launch “a thermonuclear name and shame” campaign against any advertisers who pull out of Twitter.
It’s not just Twitter, though, that is suffering. Social media as a whole has seen somewhat of a shift recently. Meta’s stock plummeted by 20% last month after the company reported worse-than-expected earnings, and Snapchat’s share price fell about 30% at the end of October, down more than 80% this year. Although TikTok continues to dominate the social media race, many are continuing to realize the impact that the app’s addictive nature can have, especially amongst Gen Z.
Is gaming the answer advertisers are looking for?
For many, gaming has become the new social media. Consumers spend over one trillion hours playing games and an additional 25 billion hours watching gaming streams globally every year — that’s more than time spent on social media and watching TV combined (GWI, 2021).
Games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft have their own internal chat systems which are becoming extremely popular communication methods, especially among younger generations. These chat systems have been designed with kids in mind, ensuring they are kid safe and moderated far more stringently than many social media sites. Some of these platforms also have experiences created solely to hang out and socialize with friends, something that Meta is quickly trying to capitalize on with its VR game Horizon Worlds.
With over 3.2B gamers, gaming also stretches to every corner of the world, boasting a diverse and rich audience who are fully engaged thanks to no second screening and the immersive element of games. Two of the world’s most popular games, PUBG and Fortnite, collectively have over 630M players. That’s 233M more players than Twitter has users. Roblox, the third most popular game, also boasts 202M regular players, many of which are younger users who are increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach.
Another reason that gaming — and in-game advertising, in particular — attracts more advertisers is its continued commitment to brand safety. Unlike other digital channels, fraudsters are yet to penetrate the gaming sphere in force due to the complex nature of the 3D world, and advertisers can choose the game, platform, and audience that fits with their brand. Third-party tech vendors like IAS and Oracle also work with in-game providers to verify third-party traffic, and the IAB and MRC recently released an updated set of advertising standards for in-game, giving brands even more confidence when making their in-game buys.
The future is uncertain for Twitter and many other social media platforms. However, as the internet continues to evolve new and exciting ways to communicate will emerge. One thing that is clear is that more social interactions are happening within the gaming sphere, and these 3D worlds have opened the possibility for brands to interact with consumers in new and innovative ways that have previously not been possible in 2D environments. Gaming has also been able to learn from many of the mistakes that social media made in the past, and this has helped futureproof the channel with many looking to it as the foundation of the impending metaverse.
No one can tell what the future will bring. Still, as we draw closer to 2023, it will be interesting to see how social interactions within the digital sphere evolve, whether social media is able to survive and thrive, or whether gaming will continue to grow and provide us with new ways to communicate with each other and with our favorite brands.