LinkedIn discloses inflated metrics glitch that led it to overcharge 418,000 advertisers
LinkedIn found a glitch in its ad platform that led to inflated numbers for more than 400,000 advertisers over the past two years, and the company said it was working to refund those affected while adopting greater transparency measures.
The metrix flub, which LinkedIn confirmed today, led advertisers to overpay on some ad campaigns. It’s the type of digital accounting error that sometimes plagues the internet ad industry, and that has led platforms to open up their services to third-parties to audit their numbers. Inflated metrics can cost advertisers not just money, but they can lead brands to thinking their campaigns are more successful than they are. The incorrect data can affect their media plans.
In this case, LinkedIn measured more video views and “impressions” on ads than were actually being served. (Impressions are tallied when an ad comes into view for an internet user.)
“In August, our engineering team discovered and then subsequently fixed two measurement issues in our ads products that may have overreported some Sponsored Content campaign metrics for impression and video views,” Gyanda Sachdeva, LinkedIn’s VP of product management, wrote in a blog post.
LinkedIn did not give details of the metrics issue beyond the blog post. The company said 418,000 advertisers were affected, and more than 90 percent of customers overpaid by an amount that was less than $25. Still, that could add up to more than $10 million over the two years in total.
LinkedIn says it will issue refunds. The company also is working with Media Rating Council, which has experience auditing platforms like LinkedIn, to ensure accurate reporting. LinkedIn also promised to work with Moat, a third-party verification firm owned by Oracle Data Cloud. Moat is among the companies that can independently measure video views on social media.
LinkedIn’s metrics issue is like one that Facebook disclosed in 2016. Facebook’s troubles were not related to paid ads, but it gave brands an inaccurate account of how many video views they received on organic posts. The incident led to a reckoning across the digital ad landscape with brands calling for more transparency and independent audits of platforms.
Facebook agreed to pay $40 million to advertisers claiming they were affected by the metrics mishap.
On Thursday, one top advertising exec at a brand, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that LinkedIn was already reaching out to make good. “We don’t have any details pending a meeting,” the executive said. “But they’re promising to make us whole.”