CEO of 33Across Sheds Light on Dark Social Activity

EricWheeler headshot Eric Wheeler is currently the CEO of 33Across, a leading advertising technology company that harnesses intent from billions of consumer search and sharing activities on more than 1 million publishers to deliver breakthrough advertising experiences and enhanced modeled audience solutions. Wheeler brings previous experience from CEO of Neo@Ogilvy and Executive Director of Ogilvy Interactive North America. The Makegood recently spoke with Wheeler about what he calls “dark social activity.”

The Makegood: Dark social activity, which refers to the untracked or unperformed social activity, is extremely important to consider when measuring the data on social media sites. How did 33Across discover this as a necessary metric?

We noticed that while social activity can be effectively tracked on each individual social network (Light Social), consumers often do not stay within one social network when consuming or sharing content, choosing to share via chat or email instead. Based on a comparison between December 2013 and January 2014, Dark Social referrals saw the most significant increase by 12.5%, followed by Social (Network) referrals at a 11.6% increase. Dark Social makes up 68% of sharing and Social Networks make up 32% of sharing. That seemed like a very high percentage to us, and we were interested in measuring the 68% not actively being tracked on social networks like Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Makegood: How does 33Across go about tracking this dark social activity? Could you elaborate on the newly released Intent Signal Platform?

33Across acquired Tynt, a publishing sharing tool, in 2012, which allows us to track the sharing of content via its cut and paste tracking technology. So, even when users share content through dark social, we can still see where it is being sent.

The Intent Signal Platform is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work merging Tynt’s copy and paste and content sharing technology with 33Across’ best in class targeting and social graph solutions. 33Across now has code embedded directly on more than one million publishers, allowing the Intent Signal Platform to identify actual consumer intent signals on a massive scale.

The Makegood: What can the Intent Signal Platform do for advertisers? In other words, how can tracking dark social activity help advertisers target their audiences further?

33Across focuses on solving some of the advertising industry’s biggest challenges using massive search, social and interest data to deliver audiences that drive greater results for leading brands.  With the creation of the Intent Signal Platform, we have created a breakthrough solution to deliver more effective, high impact advertising and targeting by using dark social to reveal more in depth information about how content is being viewed and shared. By giving both publishers and advertisers access to a broader pool of data, they can be more effective in the delivery of campaigns to the right audience, through the right channel at the right time.

The Makegood: How do you believe that Facebook’s recent acquisition of What’sApp relates to dark social activity?

The acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, for a cool $19B, is a proof point that dark social is not only real, but is a threat to the targeting structure that most social networks currently operate on. Facebook sees the value in chat, which is why it is going through great lengths to bolster its own chat client in the hopes of being able to control the conversations, and thereby track the sharing of content. By improving their own chat capabilities, Facebook is likely trying to detract from the current dark social avenues, namely other chat clients and traditional email.

The Makegood: How can advertisers expect to be rewarded from taking dark social activity into consideration? Do you believe that this will be a major metric in the future?

At its essence, Dark Social is a peer-to-peer social sharing phenomena. Advertisers who understand how and when content is being shared socially can target consumers when they are most receptive to a brand’s message. Advertisers utilizing 33Acrosses’ Intent Signal Platform can not only identify when these dark social shares are taking place, but also message to consumers at that exact moment the content is being shared. Given the exponential growth of social sharing overall, and the significant percentage that is made up of dark social, we believe this metric will continue to grow in importance to agencies, marketers and publishers.

The Makegood: Thank you, Eric.