Dark Social – The Missing Link Of Online Sharing

RadiumOne study reveals interesting information into online sharing

Have you heard of dark social? A recent study from RadiumOne helps shine light on the value of the dark social opportunity for advertisers, marketers and publishers while providing an in-depth understanding of online sharing attitudes and behaviours.

Let’s start by first defining what dark social actually is. Dark social is social sharing that occurs in private digital communication tools such as email and instant messaging and refers to any inbound web traffic which web analytics are not able to track. It represents three times the social sharing activity of Facebook alone.

The study looks at how consumers are sharing content via dark social compared to Facebook and other popular social media channels, breaking them down by age, region and category. The results may surprise you!

We’ve broken down the results and summarised the key findings below:

Dark Social is too big to ignore

  • Most consumers share content online – 84% of people share content online globally
  • 93% of people share via dark social in conjunction with public sharing channels
  • 32% of people will only share content via dark social
    (see the graphs below for a further drill down into age and region)




Dark Social is a critical piece to the consumers puzzle

  • 69% of all content sharing activity globally takes place via dark social versus 31% of sharing via Facebook and all other public sharing channels combined
  • 75% all online sharing activity in Australia takes place via dark social channels (email, texting, forums,etc.), compared to just 21% via Facebook and 4% on all other social channels combined
  • Dark social represents the majority of sharing in 19 content categories globally including travel, personal finance, technology and automotive


  • Social sharing is a cross-channel activity – 36% of dark social sharing takes place on mobile devices globally
  • Advertisers are achieving impressive results from harnessing and activating dark social data to engage with audiences outside of their owned media properties – Through the use of dark social data, Universal Music Group improved the performance of their programmatic media campaigns by 300%.

With dark social playing such a major role in online content sharing, it seems that it will provide a more holistic view of social sharing, consumer intent and interest while providing advertisers, publishers and marketers with a huge opportunity to make more informed decisions with these social insights.

Were you aware of dark social’s existence? If so, were you taking the data into account when planning your digital marketing campaigns?

copyright FRANk Media 2018