LinkedIn Advertising Bug Costs UK Businesses Thousands

Founded in 2003, LinkedIn has more than 187 million members, over 10 million in the UK and has become increasingly popular with small businesses utilizing highly targeted advertising. LinkedIn’s paid for platform leverages display advertising to the high-value network, and enables marketers to target ads based upon not only gender, age and geography but also upon job title, sector and membership of LinkedIn Groups.

According to Mike Tinmouth, Founder of social media consultancy TheSociaPro, who first identified the fault, the LinkedIn platform was originally launched as a US dollar only billing system before recently introducing a GBP billing option but failed to account for the pound/ dollar exchange rate which is currently $1.62 to £1.00. Since this change, users in the UK have had the option when registering their account, of paying for advertising in either pounds or dollars. The minimum spend per advert is fixed at $2.01, however the identical advert in GBP costs £2.01. This means that UK business who instinctively opted to pay in pound sterling have for several months been paying 1.6x more than they would or could otherwise have paid and more than foreign rivals who target the UK still in dollars.

LinkedIn has been one of the fastest growing professional sites with four out of five British professionals now part of the business network. In November the company reported revenue for the third quarter of $252.0 million, an increase of 81% compared to $139.5 million in the third quarter of 2011, largely driven by increased advertising revenue, so news of the fault will be particularly hard felt.

According to The B2B Customer Management Marketing Spend 2012 survey which questioned 3,500 SME business owners, 32% have a marketing budget of over £100,000 and while social media spend remains relatively small the error at LinkedIn is likely to have cost UK business tens of thousands of pounds in misspent marketing.

In a statement LinkedIn confirmed the problem and insisted it was being rectified stating, “LinkedIn Ads enable people and companies to reach a highly targeted audience of 187m influential professionals around the world, including 10 million in the UK. As part of our ongoing efforts to provide a more locally relevant experience for our members, we recently introduced the option to pay with non-$USD currencies for self-serve ads. We’re aware of a bug which means the GBP minimum bid is displaying the same value as the minimum USD, and are planning to rectify this in the coming weeks. Until then, we offer members the choice to pay in USD or a range of other widely used currencies.”