Challenges in the World of Dark Social

Challenges in the World of Dark Social

As if calculating the ROI of digital marketing wasn’t complicated enough! Time and effort is spent crafting creative ideas to capture an audience and to convert that audience to loyal guests who then become impassioned cheerleaders. Now research shows that “Dark Social” can muddy up measurements and make it even more difficult to make appropriate decisions when allocating advertising dollars. Dark social is defined as people sharing content such as website links through email, text messages or messaging apps which are outside of the environment where the content (advertisement, blog post, article, etc.) is housed.

This compounds the age-old problem of marketing attribution. Which marketing execution should get the credit for bringing a customer my way? Traditionally, a large part of a marketer’s job has been to determine what’s successful in bringing in the most customers, so that it can be repeated for even more success. In today’s complex digital environment, dark social throws in a monkey wrench. Marketers have always espoused “We love digital marketing because it’s so measurable!” Dark social turns that thinking on its head. 

This private sharing is harder to track than content shared on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. With apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, in addition to mobile and email sharing of something that intrigues us or catches our attention with a friend, dark social makes it difficult for marketers to gauge the true source of the traffic. Studies show that companies can miss how they actually got traffic by 80% due to dark social sharing that is growing daily.

Photo via RadiumOne Study

Per RadiumOne study, “84% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now takes place via private, Dark Social channels such as email and instant messaging. And yet over 90% of social marketing ad budgets goes directly to social networks”. 

There are steps for measurement and best practices that we have in place. To find out more, connect with one of our Social Media experts.


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