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Dark social: key to better media buying?

News, 21 June 2016

SINGAPORE: Marketers need to better understand that the concept of 'sharing' extends far beyond public social networks, according to an industry figure, as the great majority takes place on "dark social" platforms such as email, copy-and-paste links, instant messaging apps and texting.

Patrick Darcy, Commercial Director for martech business RadiumOne Asia-Pacific, told the AMES 2016 conference that by focusing investment purely on public social platforms, brands risked losing out on ROI.

RadiumOne's latest research study of more than 940m global users showed that just 16% of sharing happens on public social media, while 84% take place on dark social.

But 90% of marketing investment is in public social media platforms, Darcy pointed out. (For more, including cases studies of brands using dark social effectively, read Warc's exclusive report: Get smart: understand dark social for better media buying.)

"We have technology that enables us to track hundreds of millions of consumers, the way they share, when they share, and what they share," said Darcy.

"By comparison to other social listening tools or analytics tools, the sole reason why we track and collect this information is to use it to inform paid media decisions, to make a brand's advertising more effective and to sell more stuff."

RadiumOne's research indicates that dark social platforms are most popular for sharing content with close friends and family, typically on a one-to-one basis with the intention to ask for advice or to share an opinion.

So, for example, across Asia-Pacific, the automotive category ranked the highest at 82.4% for dark social sharing, while sport was the lowest at 38.3%.

Darcy observed that people were less likely to make public proclamations about them buying a fancy new car – with the attendant implications about their earning power – than to share that information with close friends.

But the sport and entertainment categories are very different, as people want to talk about their team and their musical preferences.

"You really have to be using tools that look at engagement… but more importantly, how people are sharing that content outside, from your site or outside your site," Darcy said.

Data sourced from Warc