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DoubleVerify Apologizes for Misreporting X/Twitter’s Brand-Safety Rates for More Than Four Months

DoubleVerify, which provides brand-safety measurement ratings for digital platforms to major advertisers, incorrectly displayed X’s Brand Safety Rate — a measure of how frequently ads appeared adjacent to content that met advertiser-approved criteria — on the DoubleVerify dashboard for nearly five months.

From Oct. 24, 2023, to March 14, 2024, DoubleVerify’s dashboard provided the wrong data for X to advertisers. In some cases, the measurement firm showed scores as low as 70%, whereas X’s Brand Safety Rates were in fact 99.99%. DoubleVerify CEO Mark Mark Zagorski, in a message to customers April 12, apologized for the error and said the company’s dashboard now correctly shows X’s brand-safety rates.

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“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 in the message to customers. “DV remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and transparency in our data.”

It’s unclear how the error occurred. Reps for X and DoubleVerify said the companies are continuing to investigate the issue. DoubleVerify is “conducting a thorough review of our processes and systems to ensure this issue does not occur in the future,” according to Zagorski.

“X remains dedicated to ensuring a safe and transparent platform for our valued advertisers and users,” the X Business account posted on Friday. “We are deeply troubled by this gross misrepresentation of our Brand Safety performance and have taken immediate action to rectify the situation with DoubleVerify.”

Elon Musk, the tech billionaire who owns X, wrote in a post April 12, “Thank you DoubleVerify for correcting your mistake regarding brand safety on this platform. When measured accurately, brand safety on 𝕏 is extremely good.”

DoubleVerify’s reporting error caused dozens of large brands to pull back advertising spending and stop campaigns on X, according to the social-media company. For example, the DoubleVerify dashboard said that a Molson Coors campaign delivered poorly with a brand-suitability rate in the mid-90s — when it was actually 99.99%. Account teams at Publicis Spark, which manages campaigns for such brands as Campbell’s and Conagra, became aware of the erroneous DoubleVerify metric and then said they were hesitant to partner with X, according to Joe Benarroch, X’s head of business operations. (A spokesman for Campbell’s said that its brands have not advertised on X or Twitter since 2020; that decision was tied to consumer behavior and performance and wasn’t related at all to any brand-safety issues.)

Monique Pintarelli, head of Americas for X, in remarks delivered Monday to the Mobile Marketing Association’s Board of Global Advertisers, noted that the social network’s tools for sensitivity settings and keyword adjacencies — and its partnerships with Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify to allow for third-party verification — were not available prior to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

Pintarelli also noted that the DoubleVerify reporting error affected only X. She asked advertisers to “please connect with your agencies and measurement partners to ensure you have the most accurate information.”

“We are proud of the work we are doing, to ensure our customers have the tools needed to ensure brand safety across our platform,” Pintarelli said. “We are now at or above industry standards, in all metrics and capabilities.”

X/Twitter and Musk have aggressively pushed back against claims that the social network is unsafe for brand advertising. Last November, X sued liberal watchdog group Media Matters, alleging the group “knowingly and maliciously manufactured” research that showed neo-Nazi and white-nationalist posts on X next to ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle and Comcast’s Xfinity. Following the Media Matters report and Musk’s seeming endorsement of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, several large advertisers including Disney said they were halting their spending on X — either because of the Media Matters reports, Musk’s post or a combination of both. Last month, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed a lawsuit against Media Matters seeking to force the nonprofit to turn over documents related to the AG’s investigation “into its fraudulent business practices,” citing X’s allegations that Media Matters “deceitfully manipulated X’s algorithm to place advertisers’ content next to contrived controversial posts.” In a statement, Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said: “Far from the free-speech advocate he claims to be, Elon Musk has actually intensified his efforts to undermine free speech by enlisting Republican Attorneys General across the country to initiate meritless, expensive, and harassing investigations against Media Matters in an attempt to punish critics. This [Missouri] investigation is the latest in a transparent endeavor to squelch the First Amendment rights of researchers and reporters; it will have a chilling effect on news reporters.”

Read Zagorski’s message to DoubleVerify customers about the reporting error for X’s Brand Safety Rates:

Valued DV Customer:

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. 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 for X 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.

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. DV remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and transparency in our data.

DoubleVerify is working closely with X to ensure that all future reports reflect the accurate Brand Safety performance of campaigns run on X’s platform. We also are conducting a thorough review of our processes and systems to ensure this issue does not occur in the future.

Should you wish to have a direct conversation with X regarding your reporting, we would be happy to relay your contact information to your X account lead and facilitate a meeting. Our team at DoubleVerify remains committed to maintaining trust and confidence in our platform, and would welcome a direct follow up with you should you wish to discuss further.

Best regards,

Mark Zagorski

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