SpaceX Is Buying A Hefty Ad Package For Starlink On Twitter

Despite all of the talk about censorship and check marks, the main issue facing Twitter even before Elon Musk's takeover of the platform was monetization. The platform was hemorrhaging money, and Musk quickly set about trying to fix that. In a bid to get outgoings under control, several board members and almost half of the company's workforce were laid off. A bigger problem was income, and Twitter's new CEO has desperately been trying to implement paid schemes, like the revamped version of Twitter Blue, in an attempt to generate more money. 

Unfortunately for the world's richest man, things aren't that simple. New Blue's implementation, along with the changes it brought to the verification system, has been pretty chaotic. To make matters worse, many advertisers have taken a step back until they can see the exact direction the platform is going in. Advertising makes up around 90% of Twitter's income as things stand, and a drop in ad revenue could make it even harder for Musk to get some of his $44 billion back.

Several prominent multi-billion dollar companies have publicly stated they won't be buying Twitter ads as things stand. The list includes General Motors, Volkswagen, Audi, pharma major Pfizer, and Mondelez International — the company that makes Oreo cookies. Several of the businesses pulling back are vehicle manufacturers, which could suggest a potential conflict with one of Musk's other companies, Tesla, is a factor. The main reason cited seems to be Musk's plans to make Twitter a "free speech" platform, which has advertisers worried their companies' ads may be listed alongside hate speech, extreme opinions, and misinformation. Musk attempted to quell those ideas in an open letter that was released shortly before the takeover went through, but that doesn't seem to have worked.

Musk's own company seems to be spending on Twitter ads

Another one of Musk's companies may be stepping in to slightly reduce the impact of the ad exodus. SpaceX has reportedly splashed out on one of the company's most expensive ad packages. The move is certainly uncharacteristic, as the space-travel-focused company has rarely bought prominent ads on the platform. The ads will be used to promote Starlink, the company's satellite internet service, which operates under SpaceX but is far different from the NASA collaborations and space tourism the company is better known for.

According to CNBC, "current and former" Twitter employees confirmed that the advertising packages SpaceX purchased can cost as much as a quarter of a million dollars and can keep a brand at the top of people in the targeted area's timeline for "a full day." The brand messaging appears the first three times users open the app on each day the company has paid for. The users in question are people living in Spain and Australia, where the advertising packages were purchased. CNBC also claims to have seen "internal records" from Twitter that back up the information in the story.

Elon Musk challenges the claims

Shortly after the story broke, Musk took to his new platform to dismiss it. He framed the purchase as more of a test than a bailout, saying: "SpaceX Starlink bought a tiny – not large – ad package to test effectiveness of Twitter advertising in Australia & Spain. Did same for FB/Insta/Google." Musk's story is certainly plausible as using one of his own companies would more than likely be the most effective way to measure an ad's impact. 

He has unlimited access to data from both Twitter's advertising department and SpaceX, so there is plenty that could be accurately analyzed. Musk's tweet seems to correctly line up with the locations listed in the CNBC article, but disputes the size of the advertising packages involved — claiming they are "tiny" as opposed to some of the largest and most expensive advertising deals Twitter currently has available.

What is Starlink anyway?

Starlink is one of Elon Musk's more ambitious projects, but could arguably have a huge impact on humanity if it remains viable. Unlike some of the billionaire's other wild ideas, which include building a hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and making Mars habitable by nuking it, Starlink is here and it does work. It has already made a tremendous difference during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, allowing the Ukrainian military and government to communicate even after the Russian military targeted their infrastructure. It also works if you live in the middle of nowhere and don't want to be stuck using dial-up internet.

Starlink uses a network of satellites to provide high-speed internet access around the world. It was originally designed for people in areas where providing the infrastructure for modern fiber internet just isn't viable. Regular Starlink still has a waiting list in areas with high demand, though users can now get around that by signing up for Starlink RV. The latter plan was the second option the company launched and can be used on the move, though it will be restricted or capped in areas with active waiting lists during peak hours. 

Following the release of Starlink RV, the company's options expanded to include services for boats and private jets — though the price for things like the company's aviation package genuinely is sky-high. Starlink itself is managed by SpaceX. The company is also responsible for launching the satellites the service needs to maintain and expand its network. Starlink has launched thousands of satellites into orbit, and plans are in place to launch thousands more — which could cause a few issues.