Twitter is planning an advertising-free version of its subscription product, as the company attempts to raise revenue and increase demand for its premium offering.
Elon Musk has targeted an increase in subscription revenue as a key part of the social media platform’s business plan under his ownership.
The Tesla chief executive tweeted: “There will be a higher priced subscription that allows zero ads.” Twitter relaunched its premium offering for the second time under Musk in December, offering users perks including verified account status for $8 (£6.50) a month on the web or $11 a month for iPhone and Android phone users.
Advertising accounted for 90% of Twitter’s revenue in 2021 but has fallen away since Musk bought the business last October, with daily revenue reportedly dropping 40% compared with last year.
Advertisers including the carmaker Audi and the drugs firm Pfizer have paused spending on Twitter amid fears of a rise in hate speech on the platform, compounded by a botched revamp of Twitter Blue in November that led to pranksters paying for verified status in order to launch fake corporate accounts.
Tweeting on Saturday, Musk added that despite the advertising downturn, ads were too frequent on the platform and “too big”. He added: “Taking steps to address both in coming weeks.”
Musk aims to reduce Twitter’s dependency on advertising as payment looms for an interest payment on the $13bn of debt he loaded on the company as part of the takeover. According to reports, Twitter is due to make a quarterly payment of $300m this month, potentially as soon as this week.
Musk told staff in November that Twitter might not survive a forthcoming downturn without a substantial increase in subscription income. “Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn. We need roughly half of our revenue to be subscription,” he wrote in a company-wide email.
Twitter Blue is available in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Musk has likened Twitter to a “plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work” and has flagged the prospect of bankruptcy for a business that he bought for $44bn. However, last month Musk played down the prospect of the company going bust, saying it was “not on the fast lane to bankruptcy any more”.