Should My Non-Profit or Political Org Run Twitter Ads Now?

Musk's Twitter lifted the political ad ban, but is it worth it? Short answer, no. The current brand safety concerns…

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

🤓 Bite-Sized Knurd: Musk’s Twitter lifted the political ad ban, but is it worth it? Short answer, no. The current brand safety concerns, poor quality ad products, and changes in its audience raise doubts that Twitter advertising can be successful for progressive organizations.

Read on for more…

A moment many of us in the political and non-profit space have been waiting for!

The ban on political ads on Twitter has been lifted.

Only, it’s become tainted.

Elon Musk announced earlier this month that he would lift the ban on political ads on Twitter. This comes at a moment when major advertisers have fled the platform. Twitter has likely lost millions in ad revenue, although we don’t know for sure since Musk took the company private when he acquired it.

This decision is nothing short of an act of desperation from a man who overpaid for a company he does not have the capacity to run let alone make a profit.

Despite the obvious greed behind the decision, it is still something that non-profits and political organizations are considering. Facebook and other digital advertising platforms have ethical concerns too. What would make Twitter any different?

Not so fast! Before you consider running political ads on Twitter, there are a few important realities to consider.

The short answer to the question should I run ads on Twitter is no. I would not recommend that any progressive organization advertise on Twitter at this time. It not only would not perform well, but it could be harmful to the organization based on Twitter’s current environment.

Serious Brand Safety Issues

The simplest reason why progressive organizations should not run ads on Twitter is that it could be detrimental to their brand.

Digital advertising has many ways to make sure an organization’s ads appear next to “brand-safe” content. We use blocklists to make sure ads don’t appear on websites like Breitbart or next to sensitive news articles. We add third-party tracking to our ads so we can track fraudulent ads.

None of that is possible on Twitter. And the people who used to be in charge of content moderation have left the building.

Simply put, there is no way to control if your Twitter ad appears below some Covid disinformation, an anti-Semetic hate tweet, or Alex Jones hocking diet pills. Musk has said he wants to make Twitter the “free speech” platform (despite banning journalists who disagree with him), but in reality, that means he will not control what people say on Twitter. That opens the door for all kinds of hate speech, misinformation, and extremism, which is an advertiser’s worst nightmare. The use of the n-word alone jumped almost 500% on Twitter after Musk took over.

Call me crazy, but I don’t know of any progressive organization that would want to appear next to those tweets.

Appearing next to hate speech, sexual, violent, or other harmful content can have negative consequences for a brand. Advertising is the public-facing view of a company. If an ad appears next to inappropriate content, it is a reflection of the brand, its decisions, and potentially its values. This is especially true when it comes to how well-publicized the Twitter fiasco has been. If an advertiser runs on Twitter after all of the negative publicity surrounding Musk, they are acknowledging the risk.

Brand safety is both about not appearing next to inappropriate content and aligning with partners who share your values. Elon Musks’ Twitter has made it perfectly clear where its values lie. It’s up to progressive organizations to ask the question, are we comfortable with paying a company that has aligned itself with extremists?

Your Audience Has Fled Twitter

The dust is still settling from Elon’s takeover and wild first few months. It’s unclear how many people left Twitter after he joined, but what is clear is that left-leaning folks are not happy about the new Twitter.

Musk has very explicitly aligned himself with the right wing and has made decisions at Twitter that amplify those voices while silencing progressive voices. While many may still be hanging onto Twitter out of habit, they are certainly using Twitter differently or less frequently. Whether people leave Twitter or not, it is still a completely different environment than it was a few months ago and a less welcoming environment for progressives.

What this means for advertisers is that Twitter is no longer a reliable place to find and reach progressive voices.

Digital advertising strategy is so much about your audience and who you want to talk to. It’s important to understand who uses certain sites in order to decide which places to advertise. Marketers want to be really selective of the channels they advertise on so they can reach their target audience in the right place, at the right time. At this moment in time, Twitter is neither the right place, the right time, or the right audience for progressive organizations. Luckily, there are plenty of other and better digital advertising partners to choose from.

It’s Simply A Bad Advertising Platform

Even before Twitter became a cesspool of right-wing extremism, its advertising product was strictly mediocre.

The product has not been updated in years and there’s little innovation around targeting, ad inventory, and measurement. If I ever recommended Twitter to a client, it was as the little brother of a much larger advertising campaign on Facebook, Google, or other sites. When we did advertise, the results were again…mediocre. It’s not a great platform for conversion campaigns like fundraising or email sign-ups and its awareness ads aren’t as good as its competitors like Instagram or YouTube.

Anyone with money to spend on digital advertising should look elsewhere. As much as Twitter ads feel like a new shiny toy that political organizations couldn’t have before, it’s just a mediocre product run by a chaotic CEO. Advertisers beware.

There are plenty of other good digital advertising platforms to go around. If you are looking for advertising or digital support please get in touch with us at

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 for social change communicators 📚💸 advertising / fundraising

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist who’s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the 🌱 roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists 🥵 to avoid burnout and 📚 tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that 🌍 empower ✊🏽 social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.