Marketers: Identify and Activate Your ‘Dark Social’ Blind Spot

Marketers Identify and Activate Your Dark Social Blind Spot Marketers: Identify and Activate Your Dark Social Blind SpotThe following is a guest contributed post from Rebecca Watson, VP of Business Development at RadiumOne

It is hard to act on what you can’t see, a concept that has lead marketers to largely ignore ‘dark social’ up until now. The term represents all the instances in which consumers share a brand’s digital content with personal contacts through tools such as email, instant messaging, SMS/texting and similar communication apps.

‘Dark social’ is a surprisingly large blind spot for companies. Recent data indicates that over 72% of all shares happen through copy and paste activity compared to 25% of sharing happening to Facebook and Twitter combined. Put another way, the average marketer’s website gets almost three times as many shares from ‘dark social’ than anywhere else, exposing a huge area of opportunity for brands. Being able to identify this hidden sharing activity and the users behind it is key to unlocking another level of engaged current and potential consumers.

Luckily, big brands can use technology to harness and activate their ‘dark social’ blind spot.

Marketers can easily enhance their websites to report on where shares happen and how recipients engage with these shares. In just one month of reporting, music magazine NME saw over seven times the number of content shares originate via content copied into email (at 44,850 instances) versus Facebook and Twitter (at 5,700 instances). Bigger still, fashion magazine Marie Claire saw over 10 times the number of content shares originate via content copied into email (at 18,900 instances) versus Facebook and Twitter (at 1,750 instances).[1]

These sharing metrics from the NME and Marie Claire websites illustrate how most ‘dark social’ shares happen: through copying and pasting branded content into email. Subsequently, ‘dark social’ produces a huge amount of email activity on mobile. Of all email opens, 43-51% happen on a mobile device according to email analytics company Litmus.[2] This means about half or more of the average marketer’s ‘dark social’ activity can be targeted and activated with mobile advertising.

Savvy marketers have begun to advertise to ‘dark social’ audiences in mobile environments. They use programmatic media to retarget mobile ads to the past recipients of social sharing by device. Here are three examples:

  • A luxury retailer grew their iPad audience and sales by targeting digital ads to all iPad users who had received its content via social sharing. This drove an incredible CTR that was over 950% higher than the luxury retailer’s existing benchmark.[3]
  • A movie studio increased the size of its mobile audience by 10x after retargeting past recipients of social sharing on smartphones and tablets.[4]
  • A quick service restaurant drove a 40% lift in traffic to its mobile destination page after retargeting past recipients of social sharing on iPad and iPhone devices.[5]

These examples show how acting on ‘dark social’ data along with a smart retargeting strategy is taking off. More and more marketers are identifying where they are missing out on tracking their user activity to conquer this ‘dark social’ blind spot. By capturing and connecting this sharing data to media campaigns, marketers are able to target the right consumers and convert them into actual customers. As a result this boost in advertising performance unlocks new target audiences and drives down the cost to acquire a new customer. Stay ahead of the curve and equip your website and social links with sharing analytics to pinpoint your site’s sharing recipients, turning them into one addressable, valuable audience.



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1 comments
DigMediaApprentice
DigMediaApprentice

Very interesting post Ms. Watson.  From previous research that I've done on "dark social", I was under the impression that this type of tracking wasn't possible.  Also, I recently read a Digiday article where you were quoted as saying "There’s just little way to track the traffic acquisition. The systems aren’t in place for them to quantify it". 


Maybe I misunderstand the technology, but one would think that if you're able to track a user for re-targeting (by enhancing their website) , you'd be able to use that same technology to source the traffic.


Also, what are your thoughts on where the industry stands with regards to privacy concerns.  I would argue that from a user experience, personal exchanges via email, 1x1 chat, or chat apps like What's app imply (or at least, give the impression of being) a private exchange.