Who is Twitter’s new ad sales boss Chris Riedy and can he calm advertisers’ anxiety?
Social media company has a new advertising boss, but can he win back the brands that have left the platform in droves?
Chris Riedy takes on role after mass firings at the platform
Twitter has reportedly appointed Chris Riedy as its new head of ad sales. Riedy will have the difficult challenge of taking up the role at a time when advertisers are pausing spend on the platform in the wake of new owner Elon Musk’s changes, which now include the unbanning of former president Donald Trump.
Riedy does, however, have the benefit of having been at Twitter for 10 years, spending a significant proportion of that time in ad sales, which could serve to quell some advertiser fears. His most recent role was as Twitter’s vice-president for EMEA, which at time of writing is still displayed on his LinkedIn and Twitter bios. Riedy has also previously worked at Wikia (now Fandom), the community site set up by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
His ascension to the top advertising role follows a bizarre series of events in which Elon Musk appeared to accept the resignation of previous ad sales head Robin Wheeler, who he then convinced to stay only to fire her a few days later. The sticking point was that Wheeler refused to cut any more jobs within the team, according to reports. And while no further cuts are expected, Riedy is left working with a very different team than just a few weeks ago.
Jordan Bitterman, the chief marketing officer at TripleLift, says Riedy’s ”long history” at Twitter means he’s ”respected by his peers and has good relationships in the industry”. Bitterman adds: ”There are two main issues as he starts in his new role: most of his colleagues are now ‘former colleagues,’ so he’s dealing with a diminished team, and the customer environment created by the new owner is in a historically bad place.”
Despite Riedy’s experience, the uncertainty around ad sales on the platform goes beyond a simple changing of the guard. The prevailing wind is that brand safety on the platform is far from assured. Divisive figures including Trump and Kanye West have been allowed back on the platform due to decisions from Musk, despite him having previously intimated those decisions would be up to a council.
Ellie Bamford, the senior vice-president and global head of media and connections at R/GA, explains: “Brands don’t want to be associated with controversy or negativity. Relaxing regulations on the platform makes it a dangerous place to put media investment – and a dangerous place to be as a user. The big question that any advertiser should be thinking about when they’re in a media environment is, ‘What content am I going to be next to?’ And right now on Twitter that is completely unhinged.”
To that extent, Riedy will have a bigger challenge on his hands – in short, he simply can’t guarantee advertisers what they want to hear.
For Tom Bradley, associate director at Red Consultancy, the biggest priority for Riedy is simply to be a stable and consistent figure as head of the ad sales and partnerships team during what remains a volatile time for the wider company. “From a C-suite perspective, those who are aware of who Chris Riedy is will in theory be reassured by his presence in such a key part of the social network. But, as the wider infrastructure is still so up in the air, it may make more sense for advertisers to wait until more of the dust has settled before investing a large amount of financial spend into the platform.”