X (formerly Twitter), has unveiled a highly unconventional ad format that raises concerns about transparency and user experience. These ads, which cannot be blocked or reported, are reminiscent of spammy “chumbox” advertising often found on content farm sites. Users who encounter these ads find themselves directed to third-party websites without the option to engage or even identify the advertiser.
This development sheds light on X’s struggles to attract advertisers since Musk’s acquisition. Reports indicate that major advertisers reduced their spending by up to 90% following the ownership change. The platform’s declining revenue trend has continued month after month, prompting X to seek partnerships with third-party ad providers like Google and InMobi to offset the decline.
The introduction of these new ads suggests that X is grappling with a shortage of direct ad inventory to offer its users. This may be due to brands either exhausting their ad budgets or users blocking targeted accounts. As a result, X resorts to serving ads from external networks, resulting in lower revenue compared to direct ad sales.
Unlike traditional X ads, the new format lacks interactivity, with engagement buttons disabled and the inability to view the ad in full tweet mode. This represents a departure from the standard ad model where advertisers paid to have their content displayed in users’ feeds, replies, or profiles.