A few weeks ago, after Twitter provided their first "Russian Collusion" update, which consisted basically of nothing other than details on the amount of advertising purchased by Russian news outlets via completely legitimate means, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan fired back at Twitter with a snarky article saying she wasn’t aware that paying for advertising is now considered suspicious or harmful in a developed democracy such as the United States. She went on to say that she's very excited to find out how much U.S. media outlets spend in the Russian segment of Twitter...you know, since advertising on social media in foreign countries now seems to be a criminal act.
“This is forcing us to go a step further and come clean that we also spent money on advertising at airports, in taxis, on billboards, on the Internet, on TV and radio. Even CNN ran our commercials,” Simonyan said. “By the way, similar campaigns are conducted by the American media in the Russian segment of Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to find out how much they spend on it, who they target and for what purpose.”
Well it seems that Simonyan may now be exacting her revenge on Twitter as the following email from one of the company's advertising executives sent to RT conveniently made its way into the hands of BuzzFeed News. Among other things, the email reveals a proverbial 'full-court press' from Twitter to get RT to ramp up their U.S. election advertising spend by offering 15% of Twitter's total Share of Voice for the bargain basement prices of just $3 million.
As BuzzFeed notes, Twitter's offer to RT would have increased the media outlet's "influence" on the U.S. election by sevenfold.
Twitter wanted RT to spend big ahead of the 2016 US election, offering a significant portion of its election-related ad inventory in return. The social media company offered the Russian state–owned television network up to a 15% share of voice ("SOV") on US election advertising — or the percent of all ads run on that topic — for $3 million.
RT's share of voice was 2% at the time of the pitch, according to a June 2016 email from a Twitter sales executive to RT staff members that RT shared with BuzzFeed News. The $3 million spent would multiply RT's share of voice more than sevenfold, but still leave it short of CNN's 56% and FOX's 32%. RT declined the offer.
"We do not have any comment on our private conversations with any advertiser, even a former advertiser," a Twitter spokesperson said. Twitter did not dispute the email’s validity.
Of course, if various "Russian operatives" were able to disrupt the entire election with just $100,000 spent on Facebook, as Congressional Democrats have argued ad nauseam for the past several months, can you imagine what kind of damage RT could have done with $3 million worth of ads on Twitter? It's entirely possible that Vlad Putin himself would be sitting in the White House as we speak.