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Shedding Light on the Age of 'Dark' Messaging Apps

by Aubry Parks-Fried  |  
August 22, 2016
  |  848 views

The age of apps is in full swing. Driven by generational changes, marketing teams are crossing over to the "dark" side. Younger demographics are flocking to messaging apps, such as Snapchat, Kik, and WhatsApp and creating a spike in "dark social" (i.e., users sharing content one on one or in smaller, private groups).

As a result, we're witnessing a huge change in how marketers use the tools that can elevate brands.

Currently, 91% of Americans communicate via dark social apps in some capacity, and 59% of all social sharing happens within them. At least half of the top 10 most downloaded apps within any given month are messaging apps.

The leaders, at least in the US, of this generational change are Facebook and Snapchat, which have successfully integrated other services within their messaging functions. For example, you can now hail an Uber via Facebook's Messenger or make mobile payments with Snapchat's Snapcash.

Moreover, Facebook has emerged as the dominant force in mobile advertising. About 80% of its ad revenue comes from mobile. The company has an extremely high saturation of users, and its Messenger is seamlessly woven into how people communicate.


In the Asian market, the platform of note is Weibo. It allows users to do such things as hail a cab and pay bills; it's even interlinked with government systems. Facebook is starting to go down a similar path, eventually enabling Messenger to become the single platform for everyday tasks.

Innovations in Dark Social Apps

The type of marketing that exists within dark social media is still new, and brands don't necessarily have a lot of opportunities. Every app maker, though, understands it needs to monetize these products.


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Aubry Parks-Fried is a senior manager of digital innovations, social, and native at Centro, which helps advertisers streamline and scale digital campaigns.

LinkedIn: Aubry Parks-Fried

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