By all indications, Yaccarino is likely well aware of the demands of her new role, and new boss. Musk will now be executive chairman and chief technology officer at Twitter, and also is still its owner. Yaccarino has already been instrumental in keeping Twitter in an open dialog with the ad industry after Musk burned bridges in his first weeks on the job. In April, Yaccarino helped orchestrate Musk’s biggest talk with the industry at Possible, an event in Miami affiliated with the mobile marketing group MMA Global.
In the weeks after Musk took over Twitter, advertisers pulled back on spending, with concerns that he would ignore brand safety considerations and allow trolls to run wild on Twitter. Major agencies, including IPG’s Mediabrands and Omnicom, sent warnings to brands in November that Musk’s leadership represented a safety risk, and they advised caution. Auto brands, including General Motors, stopped spending on Twitter, in part because Musk owns Tesla, a major competitive risk. And other brands just stopped spending, including Mondelēz, Macy’s, McDonald’s and Nike.
However, there has been somewhat of a thaw, and brands started to become more active on Twitter, especially after the Super Bowl. But Musk has been frustrated with the pace of brand deals, according to people close to Twitter’s ad business.
“She has some really big relationships at the top levels of brands,” said another ad industry executive, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I think she can get a number of them back.”
Related: Twitter hosts private event with NBCU, media partners
Yaccarino could have success extracting ad dollars from major corporations. But it’s unclear whether it will help Musk recoup on his $44 billion investment in Twitter, advertising leaders said. Big brands could spend, but it might not be at levels they did before Musk came on board.
‘A tremendous track record’
This week, Yaccarino joined forces with Musk at another industry event, ahead of the big CEO announcement. They spoke at WPP’s Stream, according to people who were in attendance. WPP has been perhaps the loudest voice from the agency world calling for brands to get back on Twitter. In February, WPP CEO Mark Read started the Twitter thaw with advertisers, saying: “Twitter seems to be a lot more stable the last few months than perhaps it was toward the end of last year. I think clients want to start to look about how they can come back onto Twitter.”
It's unclear how much Yaccarino has already discussed with agencies and brands about committing to spend dollars on Twitter, but people who know her said those conversations have already started.
Earlier this month, Twitter and NBCU held a joint presentation at Twitter headquarters in New York, during the same week as IAB NewFronts. At the show, Twitter and NBCU talked about closer content deals around events including the Olympics.
“Linda brings to Twitter a tremendous track record of partnership, innovation and results,” said David Cohen, CEO, IAB. “She also has incredibly deep relationships with marketers that she has built over her career. As a platform that looks to generate the majority of their revenue through advertising, she has significant work to do in restoring advertiser trust. Twitter must start acting with a renewed sense of responsibility around brand safety and suitability as opposed to free speech at all costs. They also have an opportunity to broaden their advertising base to mid- and long-tail advertisers in order to diversify their revenue opportunity. The good news is that Linda has experience doing all of these things, and if given the latitude and control, can really turn things around. IAB looks forward to collaborating with Linda closely on this next chapter.”