SYDNEY: Marketers need to look beyond social networking sites and consider how they can exploit dark social, especially in Australia where more clicks are generated on privately shared content than in any other world region.

A global study by RadiumOne, the advertising software business, reviewed social, sharing data from 9,000 people globally and analysed its sharing data across 900m monthly online unique users for a period of one month.

Overall, sharing on dark social – i.e. copying and pasting website links into email, text or instant messages – was found to be three times more common than sharing on Facebook. (Although, AdNews reported that RadiumOne was not able to access or include shares of content through the Facebook mobile app, which suggested that "a significant volume" of shares on the platform were not included in the data.)

The report said that Australia shared more content online than other regions, but much of this was not publicly visible. Some 95% of Australian respondents were sharing via dark social, the second highest of any region; and 35% said they only shared this way.

But Australian recipients were clicking through on those links far more enthusiastically than anywhere else: dark social accounted for more than half (53%) of all clicks from shared links, more than three times the global average of 16%.

"Dark social is one of the most valuable sources of social insights and intelligence because it represents the genuine interests of sharers and their targeted recipients," said Kerry McCabe, managing director for RadiumOne Asia Pacific, in remarks reported by B&T.

"It's a critical piece of the marketing puzzle, particularly for prospecting, and until now has been a large blind spot for advertisers and publishers," he added.

Across some 23 categories, retail, travel, technology, automotive and entertainment emerged as the content most shared via dark social.

One business that is increasingly focused on this area is Universal Music. Marketing director Nathan Thompson explained how, for example, it wraps its content from artists in a shortened "" URL from RadiumOne which allows the music label to follow how users are sharing and with whom.

Universal also claims to have improved the performance of its programmatic media campaigns by 300% through use of dark social data.

Data sourced from AdNews, B&T; additional content by Warc staff