A few days ago I was having a conversation with a colleague about the discrepancies often seen between various data sources. The client in question was ramping up their LinkedIn advertising and those numbers seemed to be particularly problematic. As we were commiserating, I had one of those “Aha!” moments where you almost feel a light bulb over your head. I remembered a presentation I’d given in 2014 at Hero Conference and a pitfall that was rearing it’s ugly head.
LinkedIn Data Is Reported In GMT
Yep, the data in LinkedIn will always be reported in GMT (or UTC as LinkedIn evidently prefers). Given that the client was in the Pacific time zone, this meant 8 hours of time difference between the LinkedIn interface data and their back-end systems. It is now 9 hours since Daylight Savings Time kicked in. That means that more than 1/3 of the daily budget is being recorded differently than other data sources are likely recording.
Under your performance summary bar, if you hover over the tiny question mark in a black circle next to the date range (even that’s hard to describe), you’ll get the following notification:
“Dates are in the UTC time zone”.
That’s pretty easy to miss and can have a serious impact on data reporting, depending on your selected timezone. I’d love to see the option to change your time zone, among many other things, from LinkedIn.
What Can You Do About It?
Unfortunately, at this time, there’s nothing advertisers can do to better align with the LinkedIn interface around time zones. Unless you want to reorganize all of your data to be centered on their UTC time, but that’s just unreasonable. There have been a number of updates coming from LinkedIn over the past few months and they don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down on the improvement front. Who knows, maybe we’ll see an option for user chosen time zone some time this year. Or maybe not. But for now, we’re left with a rift in data that might be a headache, but can be explained.
How do you account for these kinds of differences in reporting? What else would you like to see out of LinkedIn? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!