Ad Tech 101: Dark social's role in the sharing economy

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | Sponsored

This is a free educational print out from the AdNews May issue. You can subscribe to the print edition or download a digital version here.

The thirst for consumer insights has reached fever pitch. As the pressure to know more about the consumer journey intensifies, marketers and agencies can’t afford to miss out on vital clues throughout the journey that show clear intent.
While connecting consumer signals across paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) channels has never been more important, there’s a whole sharing economy out there that is largely untapped and unexplored.  

Who cares about shares?

Something as telling as a share isn’t done lightly; there’s a lot of love and premeditated action in a share, it’s today’s word of mouth. Monitoring shares with the right content tracking tools, can be lucrative and powerful for marketers.
A key development within the sharing economy has been the intent within dark social behaviour –the tracking and understanding of sharing on more intimate channels such as email, WhatsApp and IM.

Digging deeper into dark social

Dark social and the intimate media channels within it are typically blind to brands. Many think they have their social analysis and sharing strategy down, but they’re only scratching the surface as there's a whole economy out there if you dig a little deeper, and a little darker.

Dark social accounts for more than 75% of all online content sharing, and will continue to surge with gowth of platforms like WhatsApp. A recent RadiumOne study also revealed consumers who share content are 9x more likely to convert than people who don’t share.Dark social connections are also thought to carry more weight than the “one-to-many” virality of public social platforms as they tend to be more personal and influential.

Why is this important?

A high-value audience is one where interests and passions have been validated by sharing actions across online and mobile.

By understanding what is being shared and to who, particularly in dark social channels, marketers can model high value audience segments and target them with relevant digital advertising, in real-time. This makes digital spend more efficient and effective and reveals a possible investment disconnect, with marketers investing over 90% of social budgets into public social networks, accounting for only 25% of consumer sharing activity.

RadiumOne MD Adam Furness explains the jargon:

The sharing economy:

Billions of daily information and data points traded and shared between consumers makes up the sharing economy. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, Messenger, WhatsApp all support the economy. It can be one-to-one or one-to-many.

Dark social:

Sitting within the sharing economy, dark social is where people share content across private and more intimate channels such as email, instant messenger (IM), WhatsApp and text.

In a nutshell:

RadiumOne Sharing tools

Sharing Analytics:

Tracks the actions of users copying and sharing content on web and mobile, via sharing buttons or copying and pasting URL links or text from websites and sharing across dark social channels. All signals gathered allow high-value audiences to be identified and targeted via paid media.

Smart Links:


Tracks sharing via customised short links pushed out on a brand’s owned, earned, shared and paid channels. Deep insights on these sharing engagements are collected and audience segments created. All signals gathered allow high-value audiences to be identified and targeted via paid media.

Ad tech 101 April

Check out previous 101s below:

Ad Tech 101: Header Bidding Unwrapped

Ad Tech 101: Conversion Rate Optimisation

Ad Tech 101: The Marketing Cloud

Ad Tech 101: Performance Marketing

This is a free educational print out from the AdNews May issue. You can subscribe to the print edition or download a digital version here.

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