A prominent ad group says Twitter is no longer “high risk” after the appointment of a new boss

GroupM, which is owned by WPP, one of the world’s largest media agencies, has told clients it no longer considers Twitter to be “high risk,” just days after Elon Musk appointed publicist Linda Yaccarino as the social media platform’s new head.

Musk announced last week that he had hired Iaccarino, the former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, to run Twitter while remaining chief technology officer and chief executive officer.

The move was a boost to attract dozens of major advertisers who left the platform due to Musk’s unorthodox leadership style and less content moderation after his $44 billion acquisition. The exodus wiped out about 50 percent of Twitter’s $5 billion a year in revenue.

In November, GroupM rated Twitter as “high risk” due to its concerns about the platform. But on Monday, the agency removed that rating, three people familiar with the situation said, a decision likely to encourage its clients to increase ad spending again.

One person familiar with the matter said GroupM had been holding back until there was a “return to normalcy” in terms of the amount of harmful content on the platform, which rose after Musk’s takeover.

The group has been waiting for Musk to rehouse his senior leadership team, the person said, while also working with Twitter to improve “brand safety” — an industry term that refers to the risk of ads appearing alongside problematic content and misleading information.

“While the job wasn’t done, there were substantial improvements,” the person said, adding that he was “cautiously optimistic” about Jacarino’s appointment.

GroupM declined to comment.

Other ad agencies said brands were open to returning to Twitter.

Sir Martin Sorrell, head of S4 Capital, said it was “early days, but her appointment will encourage clients to take another look”. He added, “Linda would make a difference if she was given some wiggle room.”

Ben Foster, managing partner for digital at The Kite Factory, said the “hard-line approach” some brands have taken to excluding Twitter is starting to wear off.

However, he added, “I would say Elon and Linda’s work remains a piece of cake convincing everyone to advertise on the platform at scale.”

Omnicom Media Group said: “We continue to work with Twitter’s leadership – current and upcoming, such as veteran media professional Linda Yaccarino – to ensure the platform adheres to the high standards of customer brand integrity that we ask every publisher to apply. Our guidance to customers is not dictated by headlines or speculation but verifiable actions.”

In his six months at the helm of Twitter, Musk initially courted advertisers, the platform’s main source of revenue, by promising them it would not become a “free-for-all.”

However, many major brands such as Mondelez, Carlsberg, and United Airlines have paused spending on the platform. In some cases, Musk has personally contacted brands’ CEOs to reprimand them for curtailing advertising, as well as publicly threatening to “name and shame those involved.”

Industry insiders predict that Yaccarino will be able to mend relationships, noting her reputation for strong relationships as a Madison Avenue veteran.

Her appointment comes as Musk sought to shore up Twitter’s ailing finances, lay off at least 80 percent of the workforce, undergo significant cost-cutting efforts and search for ways to generate new revenue.

On top of hiring Yaccarino, the person familiar with GroupM’s decision said the agency was reassured by Musk that it allowed independent third parties to verify Twitter’s claims that the amount of malicious content on the platform had returned to pre-acquisition levels, those toxic impressions. The content was low and rarely shown alongside ads.

Despite its openness to advertisers, Twitter is still embroiled in a row with Microsoft. On Thursday, the social media company sent a letter, obtained by the Financial Times, to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, accusing the company of using the Twitter data tool for “unauthorized uses and purposes.”

In the letter, Musk’s attorney Alex Spiro asked Cowen Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan that Microsoft conduct a “compliance audit” of its past use of the Twitter Application Programming Interface, or API, which provides access to public Twitter data. It comes after Musk recently introduced an unpaid wall of access to its API, prompting Microsoft to cut off the platform from its social media management tool.

Microsoft confirmed that it received the letter Thursday, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

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