One of the main upcoming features touted by Twitter for users who subscribe to Twitter Blue plan has been the ability to see less advertising.
When owner Elon Musk announced the $8 per month paid subscription service (or $11 per month on mobile) shortly after acquiring the company last year, he specifically said that subscribers get “half as many ads.”
Now that Twitter has finally shared details of the ad removal feature, we know that’s not actually the case.
As first spotted by TechCrunch, Twitter has updated its About Twitter Blue help page which includes more information about the “half ads” feature that’s rolling out. And, as it turns out, subscribers are not actually getting “half ads.”
Here’s the entire section with the details:
Half ads: See approximately 50% fewer ads in the For You and Following timelines. As you scroll, you will see approximately twice as many organic or non-promoted Tweets placed in between promoted Tweets or ads. There may be times when there are more or fewer non-promoted Tweets between promoted Tweets. The half ads feature does not apply to promoted content elsewhere on Twitter, including but not limited to ads on profiles, ads in Tweet replies, promoted events in Explore, promoted trends, and promoted accounts to follow. Blue subscribers will have access to this feature after their account has been reviewed for eligibility and the blue checkmark has been applied.
Let’s pick it apart.
The first thing to notice is that this only affects the “For You and Following timelines.” So users are not seeing “half as many ads” on Twitter, just those timelines. This is the equivalent for paying for a subscription for a website that provides an “ad free” experience, but they only remove ads from the homepage.
And Twitter isn’t committing to exactly “half” either, as the company notes that users will see “approximately 50 percent fewer ads.”
Personally, the ads on those main timelines are also the least intrusive ads, as users already see all sorts of algorithmically recommended content they did not specifically ask for. Users are just used to scrolling until they stop on something they want to see.
According to Twitter, users paying for Twitter Blue will receive the exact same ad experience as non-paying users when it comes to “Ads on profiles, ads in Tweet replies, promoted events in Explore, promoted trends, and promoted accounts to follow” i.e. everywhere else on Twitter.
Some of the unaffected ads include adverts that users can’t escape as these ad spots follow users throughout each page on Twitter’s website. Other unaffected ads, such as the ones that appear interspersed among the users replying in the mentions of a tweet, are some of the most annoying on the platform.
Musk says pricier, ad-free Twitter Blue Plan option is coming
Late last year, Musk claimed that the company was working on an even higher-priced Twitter Blue plan that would show paying subscribers “no ads.” Further details around that plan have not been announced. However, when it comes to getting users to pay for the platform, Twitter has been struggling to sign users up for even the $8 Twitter Blue tier.
Power users, the ones most likely to pay for a service, have mostly passed on subscribing. It’s estimated that Twitter Blue just only cracked the 500,000 subscriber mark recently, around 4 months after the service launched.
It should also be noted that users looking to block Twitter ads don’t even really need to pay to do so. And they don’t need a third-party ad blocker plugin or extension either. Twitter ads are essentially regular tweets from normal Twitter accounts that are promoted into users’ feeds. Users can just block accounts whose ads appear in their feeds and they will no longer see those adverts.
Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has lost half of its advertisers. On top of that, Twitter’s top advertisers that stuck around are spending 89 percent less than they did before Musk too. So, if a user really wanted a nearly “ad free” Twitter experience, it’s likely wouldn’t be too hard for them to make that happen on their own. And at no cost.