LinkedIn Finds Measurement Errors That Inflated Video and Ad Metrics

LinkedIn Finds Measurement Errors That Inflated Video and Ad Metrics

The errors affected more than 418,000 advertisers on the professional networking platform for over two years

The LinkedIn logo at Mountain View, California. LinkedIn said a pair of glitches discovered in August inflated its metrics.
The LinkedIn logo at Mountain View, California. LinkedIn said a pair of glitches discovered in August inflated its metrics.

LinkedIn said Thursday it discovered a pair of measurement errors that led to more than 400,000 advertisers overpaying for campaigns on the professional networking platform.

In a blog post, the Microsoft Corp.-owned company said its engineering team found and fixed two measurement issues in its ad products, which led to overreporting of video views and ad impressions on sponsored-content campaigns. The bugs affected more than 418,000 advertisers over the course of more than two years, it said.

With video ads, LinkedIn discovered that some organic videos and video ads would play while they were off-screen on Apple Inc.'s iOS devices.

If a LinkedIn user scrolled past a video ad while the video was buffering, for example, the ad would autoplay even when out of view, but still be tracked and logged as a video view or completion.

That may have resulted in overstated measures including video views and view-through rates, as well as overcharging advertisers paying by the view, according to a LinkedIn spokesman.

The company also said it may have been overreporting impressions on sponsored-content campaigns in the LinkedIn feed--for example, in cases when users would rotate their phones or quickly move to other parts of the app, the spokesman said.

After uncovering the issues in August, LinkedIn fixed them this month, the spokesman added.

Overall, the company said more than 90% of the advertisers affected overpaid by less than $25, adding that it would provide them with credits for future ad campaigns.

LinkedIn's error comes after years of advertisers demanding more transparency and third-party auditing of the metrics provided by social-media giants. In 2016, Facebook Inc. came under fire after advertisers learned that it had overestimated average viewing time for video ads on the platform for two years. Facebook had only been counting video views that lasted for at least three seconds, ignoring those of shorter duration and therefore artificially pushing the average length of a view higher. In some cases, the earlier counting method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 90%.

Facebook eventually settled a lawsuit from a group of small advertisers over the miscalculated video metrics.

LinkedIn said it began talks in June with the Media Rating Council, the industry's measurement watchdog, on an audit of its metrics. "We are working with them to proceed with an audit of our metrics," a LinkedIn spokesman said.

The company is also working with Oracle Corp.-owned measurement firm Moat to measure so-called viewability--the portion of the video that appears on screen and for how long--on its platforms.

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