Exclusive: X loses 1 million daily UK users in less than 6 months
X shed over 1 million daily UK users between May and October, according to figures from UK Online Measurement (UKOM) seen by The Media Leader.
Daily active users dropped by from 9.99 million to 8.98 million in five months as Elon Musk instituted significant changes at the microblogging platform and personally promoted a host of misinformation and conspiracy theories, including posts rife with antisemitism.
Monthly users have also dropped. 25.3 million Brits used the microblogging site in May 2023; by October, that number had fallen 6% to 23.7 million.
Monthly audience reach declined 2.8 percentage points from 50.5% to 47.8% during that time period.
Notably, users that have remained on the platform have significantly decreased their usage. Total monthly minutes spent on the platform declined by 16% over those five months.
X lost a bevy of advertisers this year as the site became awash with misinformation, disinformation and hateful speech after Musk disbanded the Trust and Safety team in charge of tamping down on such content and ensuring a safe environment for brands. Ads for major brands later began appearing next to pro-Nazi posts.
According to internal documents viewed by The New York Times, X could lose up to $75m in ad revenue as more advertisers, including the likes of Apple and Disney, continue to pause spending on the platform.
Advertising accounted for the vast majority — around 90% — of X’s revenue last year, and the slow departure of advertisers apparently has Musk jaded. Last week at The New York Times‘ DealBook Summit, the world’s richest man told advertisers to “go fuck yoursel[ves].”
“Attacking advertisers and agencies that are not obliged to invest in X and have their own corporate values and behavioural standards to think about simply makes matters worse and could create a downward commercial spiral from which it would be difficult to recover,” warned James Coulson, EMEA managing partner, Consultancy, at digital marketing agency Kepler. “It is both fascinating and painful to watch.”
X, formerly Twitter, has never played a major role in many advertisers’ media plans, many of which have viewed Musk’s personal conduct and ongoing brand safety concerns at X as toxic.
In response to their exodus, X is reportedly shifting its strategy to go after small- and medium-sized businesses that may view the site as more essential for obtaining quick reach.
But beyond X’s decline in audience, Musk has, in an attempt to recoup ad revenue losses, also introduced more tension into the ad-buying experience that could make such a strategy fruitless. As James Robison, managing director of Welsh independent media agency Hello Starling explained, “To advertise on X, you have to subscribe to their verified organisations scheme. This is £1,000 per month.
“[That] limits access to the platform for so many small- and medium-sized businesses. For £12k per year as a minimum, many businesses could do more useful things with that working capital. Putting it into the pockets of an already wealthy man will not be at the top of their priorities.
“If he removes the £1,000 subscription, we might well consider putting X on our client’s media plans (if other issues at X are resolved), but for now, it feels like he’s grappling at straws to bring money in and he’s going after the people that are very much wrapped up in Meta’s very well-oiled advertising ecosystem.”