X’s Ad Sales Chief Steps Down Amid Ad Revenue Downturn

Tim Cross 09 October, 2023 

X’s ad sales chief Chris Riedy announced this weekend he is departing the company, less than a year after he took charge of X’s advertising business. The change comes during a turbulent period for the social media company (previously known as Twitter), as various stats released by company sources and insiders appear to show a struggling ads business.

Riedy didn’t give a reason for his departure within his announcement on X, simply stating that he has “nothing but appreciation for my time here”.

Riedy, who has worked at X in various roles since 2012, was appointed last November after Elon Musk fired his predecessor Robin Wheeler, reportedly due to Wheeler being unwilling to lay off more of her own staff. Since then he, alongside CEO Linda Yaccarino, has worked to restore advertisers’ confidence in X. A number of major clients paused spend on the platform following Musk’s takeover, citing concerns that his prioritisation of free speech over content moderation was leading to a rise in hate speech and harmful content.

His efforts seemed to bring some success. Earlier this year, he stated via X that thanks to partnerships with various brand safety tech vendors, more than 75 percent of 2022’s top 100 advertisers had returned to the platform. More recently Yaccarino, speaking at Code Conference a couple of weeks ago, claimed that 90 percent of X’s top 100 advertisers have resumed spending.

But despite these positive noises, X’s ad business still seems to be facing serious issues. Reuters reported last week that since Elon Musk took over the company, ad revenues at X have been down by at least 55 percent year-on-year for each individual month. While many advertisers may well have returned to spending on X, that doesn’t mean they’re spending as much as they were before Musk’s acquisition. Media watchdog Media Matters claimed last week that Visa, previously one of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers, has spent just $10 on X ads in the last 12 weeks (compared with $77,500 in the 12 weeks before Musk bought Twitter).

Elon Musk has previously acknowledged X’s struggles for ad revenue. And while his strategy for the company seems to be based partly on developing new revenue sources (including subscription revenues, and other revenue streams which may emerge as X morphs into an “everything app” as Musk describes it), ad revenues do seem to remain a priority. His appointment of Yaccarino, a veteran ad sales executive, into the CEO role seemed designed to bolster ad revenues.

But high profile brand safety concerns continue to emerge on the platform. Recently Musk’s own clash with the Anti Defamation League was said by some to have emboldened anti-Semites on the platform. As long as these sorts of incidents continue occuring, many brands are likely to remain wary of committing much spend to X.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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