X introduces ‘sensitivity settings’ to revive ad sales

Elon Musk has made a big deal of X‘s free speech agenda. But it turns out — and who could have seen this coming — that approach to modern social media just doesn’t make money.

Twitter was never profitable. But under Musk, the company known know as X has fallen even deeper into the red. In June, the company’s ad sales were down 59% compared to the same time last year.

Now, X will test the effectiveness of a tool called “sensitivity settings” in wooing advertisers back to the platform.

In a blog post, the company said the tool would use machine learning to ensure that a brand’s ads show up next to content that meet its “unique sensitivity needs,” which they also call a “sensitivity threshold.” It’s a lot of big words that mean the same thing: brands don’t want their ads showing up next to content that isn’t good for PR.

A screenshot of the tool details the three levels of sensitivity:

  • Relaxed sensitivity, which is not yet available, will “show ads alongside some sensitive content to maximize reach” but will exclude targeted hate speech and explicit sexual content

  • Standard sensitivity is for brands with “moderate sensitivity thresholds” and will not show ads alongside targeted hate speech, explicit sexual content, gratuitous gore, excessive profanity.

  • Conservative sensitivity is a “strict sensitivity threshold” that will not show ads next to “targeted hate speech, sexual content, gratuitous gore, excessive profanity, obscenity, spam, and drugs.”

Screenshot of the sensitivity setting panel

A screenshot of the “sensitivity setting” panel as seen in X’s blog post about the tool.
Credit: X

The blog notes that “Standard” sensitivity is selected by default.

The blog also works overtime to assure advertisers that spend their money on X is a good idea. In addition to an endorsement from an SVP at Mondelez, the post offers up this wild claim: “over the past 9 months, X has delivered a decade’s worth of innovation focused on creating an engaging and healthy environment where everyone, including advertisers, can connect safely.”

But if X is so safe, why is it struggling to retain advertisers? I guess X’s ads team can tackle that quandary next.

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