Social media platform X, formerly Twitter, is looking to set the record straight after its brand safety score on a key platform used by major media advertisers displayed an inaccurate rating for four and a half months.

X’s brand safety score on DoubleVerify, one of the leading sources for media holding companies to check the safety and suitability of a given platform for advertising campaigns, was displayed as an erroneously low figure from late October of last year until last month.

While DoubleVerify (DV) noted that the underlying data was correct and it was just the display graphic that was incorrect, X says that low figure dissuaded advertisers from spending on the platform.

This comes as advertisers have pulled back their spending on the social media platform following its takeover by an ownership group led by Elon Musk, citing concerns around content moderation policies that could hurt their brand by advertising on the platform.

“The industry has said no platform should be grading their own homework,” X head of business operations Joe Benarroch told FOX Business. “Get a third-party verifier. Don’t tell us that our brand is safe, let somebody else tell us our brand is safe and the whole marketplace dumped an entire amount of cash into these companies, DoubleVerify being one. We deepened our partnership with DoubleVerify at the request of every single media holding company and at the request of every single big brand marketer.”

Media holding companies that manage the advertising campaigns and spending for numerous big-name corporate brands check brand safety scores and brand suitability ratings of various platforms for campaigns they’re involved with.

DoubleVerify and Integrated Ad Science have emerged as the leading sources for those figures, with an industry standard brand safety score of 99% the benchmark for platforms to strive for.

Benarroch said that during the period where inaccurate figures were presented on DoubleVerify, X’s brand safety rating ranged from the 70s to the 90s – below the benchmark, which caused advertisers to balk at running campaigns on X.

That caused a ripple effect at media holding companies with numerous brands as pulled back from advertising on X because it was showing up as being less safe than rival platforms “over and over again,” Benarroch said.

He added that X has invested heavily in additional brand safety tools since CEO Linda Yaccarino joined the company in June, with the company allocating an “incalculable” amount of time and investment into “trying to rectify what was not a problem, but what was told to us was a problem.”

X CEO Linda Yaccarino wrote in a post on the platform that “advertisers depend on tools and accurate ratings to determine ad partnerships,” adding that, “Now that the error has been recognized, apologized for and corrected – I urge those advertisers who have made partnership decisions with X based on the erroneous data to reconsider.”

DoubleVerify CEO Mark Zagorski wrote a letter to customers to notify them that, “DoubleVerify recently discovered a graphical error in the display of X’s Brand Safety Rate in DV’s Pinnacle dashboard that resulted in displaying an incorrect, lower rate.” 

“Specifically, DoubleVerify’s dashboard incorrectly mirrored the Brand Suitability rate for your campaign onto the Brand Safety Rate in the summary graphic in Pinnacle. The underlying data available in DV Pinnacle was accurate, only the graphical visualization was not representative of the Brand Safety Rate,” Zagorski wrote. 

“This display error occurred over four and a half months from October 24, 2023, to March 14th, 2024, when it was corrected by DV. All current and retroactive Brand Safety data is now correctly represented in Pinnacle. The display error was not present in any other area in the UI, including the Incident Reporting and the Rollover Data Detail,” he explained.

“Based on DoubleVerify’s metrics, X’s Brand Safety Rate across all campaigns we measured exceeded 99.99% from October 2023 to the present. This means that X’s Brand Safety Rate exceeds global benchmarks for brand safety, based on DV’s global industry data.”

“DoubleVerify takes measurement accuracy and reporting seriously. We take full responsibility for the inaccurate visual representation of X’s Brand Safety Rate within our dashboard that displayed an inaccurate and lower Brand Safety Rate. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused to X and to our customers in the course of reviewing your campaign performance on X,” Zagorski wrote.

He added that DV is working with X to ensure future reports accurately reflect the Brand Safety performance of campaigns on the platform and that it’s undertaking a review of its systems and processes to prevent the issue from occurring again in the future.

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