7th February, 2014 / 11.00am - 4.00pm
14th March, 2019
Following widespread adoption of closed social media apps, marketers can no longer easily track outbound sharing of website links, or inbound traffic resulting from those shares – so-called Dark Social.
This social traffic is misclassified in Google Analytics as Direct, and little is currently known about its volume or relative behaviour. The aim of this study was to contextualise the typical contribution of the direct channel to total website reach, identify the relative contribution of (true) direct traffic and estimate its dark social volume.
Traffic flows totalling over 3 million hits were observed over two years on five websites. We find that the direct channel can contribute over a third of total traffic and estimate an inbound dark social component of about half. These important volumes are little understood at present, and we describe a future research agenda to develop theory.
Ammarah Marjan is a PhD student in the School of Business. Her PhD is co-sponsored by Brandmovers Institute of Digital and Creative Economy.