I’ve been playing an exciting new video game these last few weeks: muting every ad in my Twitter (now called X) feed. And given that every fifth tweet is an ad these days, I’ve been racking up quite the high score… which got me thinking. Twitter’s algorithm presumably uses my activity to determine which ads appear in my feed. Therefore, my constant muting should be training it somehow.
So what sort of ads does Twitter show me now in light of my “gaming” activity, not to mention its own recent advertising woes? What does Elon Musk think will interest me? Before muting them, I’ve recently begun screenshotting some of the ads I see on Twitter’s website, in order to gauge just how well Twitter knows me and what I want.
All of the following are actual ads that Twitter’s shown me within the last week.
I haven’t used Steam — a popular video game distribution service — in years, so I guess this ad is a failure. But I did just start paying for my daughter’s braces, so maybe I’ll see if Mr. Bucher can get me some money from Gabe Newell regardless.
On the one hand, it’s good for high schoolers to learn how to manage money. (I say that as the father of a high schooler myself.) But seeing as how I don’t live in New York — where both Hot 97 and the UBS Arena are located — this doesn’t seem like a particularly well-targeted ad.
I initially thought The Suitcase Detective was the cool-sounding title of a Japanese crime drama. Turns out, “The Suitcase Detective” is the title of a crime blog and this ad is for their recent review of a Japanese drama called Unnatural. Which, sadly, isn’t quite as cool a title as The Suitcase Detective. Also, I think this might be the very first time I’ve seen a QR code in a Twitter ad. Given that the review link is right there in the tweet, a “Read More” QR code seems rather superfluous.
+1 point for being an ad by Morning Brew, a daily newsletter that I currently subscribe to and read. -10 points, however, because I don’t care one whit about “data-sharing in value-based care.”
Matthew Monfore is a self-styled revivalist from South Dakota who retweets right-wing personalities like Jenna Ellis, Mike “the Jews have only themselves to blame” Flynn, and Catturd. Vivek Ramaswamy is a Republican presidential nominee who’s called the indictments of Trump “politicized persecution.” Hard pass.
As a web developer and blogger, I hope and pray that I never have to worry about OSHA compliance.
This ad’s pretty good, actually: cheese and caramel popcorn is my own personal crack. But I just bought a big bag of Cretors’ “Cheese & Caramel Mix” from Costco, so I’m good for now. (Of course, the implications if Twitter showed me this ad because I just bought some popcorn are scary to consider.)
A face-tracking app that lets me interact with a virtual avatar? I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that I’d want to install less on my phone.
Sorry, unrepentant carnivore here. Now, pass the steak…
Unlike most of the ads in this list, I watched this one — and was immediately put off by its AI-powered facial animations, which were creepy specifically because they were so poorly done. (Uncanny valley, here we come!) If that’s the level of quality DataStax finds acceptable, that doesn’t reflect too well on their “Real-Time AI technology.”
I’m not a travel manager nor do I think I’ll ever be rich enough to need one. Better luck next time?
While I do see ads for crypto and Web3 on Twitter, I was expecting to be inundated with them given how much cryptobros seem to love Elon. I do own some crypto, more out of curiosity than any desire to do serious investing, so I’m pretty far outside the target market for this one.
But… how? (You’d be surprised by how many Twitter ads lack clear calls to action. That’s basic “Advertising 101” stuff.)
A T-shirt for an MMA fight between two tech billionaires that will probably never happen? And it’s being sold by a self-professed Elon fan boy? I’ll start making space for one in my closet right away.
This ad worked, in that I started following the @Tokyo_gov account. Because why wouldn’t I want to learn more about “Tokyo’s most beautiful places”?
Twitter’s ad relevance is more miss than hit, which is both good and bad. I like the fact that Twitter doesn’t really know me, as evidenced by the number of irrelevant and uninteresting ads in my feed. It seems that my constant muting has confused its ad algorithm (if one exists). The flip side, of course, is that my Twitter feed is now littered with irrelevant and uninteresting ads.
The question now is, how long will I keep playing this new “game” of mine? I haven’t yet felt compelled to leave Twitter like many I know; for all of Elon Musk’s juvenile antics, I still find value in being there. Some of my favorite accounts have yet to fully embrace other platforms like Threads or Bluesky, and while Musk seems determined to drive Twitter into the ground, it still possesses a level of interaction and engagement that’s quite unlike anywhere else.
Perhaps I’ll stick it out to the bitter end. In the meantime, muting all of those irrelevant and uninteresting ads will just be part of keeping Twitter a place that’s (currently) worth visiting.