- Roughly nine out of every 10 ads that Android smartphone gamers view on social media are "dark," meaning that they're highly targeted but in a way that's invisible to the general public, according to findings from market researcher GfK and digital measurement provider BrandTotal shared with Mobile Marketer. GfK and BrandTotal's study arrives as part of a new partnership between the two firms that aims to help marketers better track competitor activities, including dark campaigns, across platforms.
- The firms estimate that dark marketing now accounts for roughly 88% of social media spending, with gaming being just one standout segment. Almost 900 brands targeted Android gamers with dark ads on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during a seven-day period tracked in August.
- In terms of audience composition for Android gamers targeted by dark marketing, 76% were on Facebook, 20% were on YouTube and 3% were on Twitter. Eighty-seven percent of social media ads placed by mobile carries that ran on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn were part of dark marketing efforts.
GfK and BrandTotal's study of social media ads targeted at Android gamers demonstrates the significance of dark campaigns as marketers aim to reach highly focused audience groups.
That targeting is beneficial for marketers that want to avoid wasting ad impressions on audiences that are outside specific criteria, including geographic region and demographic characteristics. But it does create a challenge for advertisers that want to keep an eye on the marketing activities of other companies, including competitors.
The study also indicates how important the gaming audience is to hundreds of advertisers. Gamers are receptive to advertising, with 53% of surveyed mobile gamers saying ads helped them get updates about products they want, compared with 42% of non-gamers, per researcher Newzoo. Almost half (43%) of gamers said they're more likely to buy or use brands that have ads they like, compared with 32% for non-gamers.
BrandTotal's research of social media ads has revealed how different brands use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to reach target audiences. For example, the researcher found that Kylie Cosmetics, the beauty brand started by reality-TV star Kylie Jenner, generated the most social media engagement among cosmetics brands while spending nothing on paid social ads.
Instagram, with its focus on sharing pictures and videos, was the most popular social media platform for all cosmetics brands except L'Oréal, which dedicated 93% of its advertising to Google's YouTube, BrandTotal found.