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The “Where” of Dark Marketing: Fragmentation of Platforms

The “Where” of Dark Marketing: Fragmentation of Platforms

May 23, 2018

Marketers are often left in the dark about their competitors' strategies because of the fragmented nature of today's marketing channels.

Apple’s much anticipated launch on Sept. 12 included various new iPhone models, but the star of the show by far was the Apple Watch, with its new, built-in, FDA-approved ECG monitor. This is the brand’s largest step forward into the healthcare/medical equipment field and can mark a huge shift in their marketing strategy.

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People consume more online media today than ever before, and marketers are taking advantage, to attempt to reach their audience at any available moment. Marketers are leveraging the fragmented digital universe to promote their brands and boost sales. Yet, these same marketers are too often in the dark.

Without knowing the ins and outs of their competitors’ marketing strategies, marketers are left in the dark. But here’s one thing that’s unequivocally transparent: technological advancements have drastically transformed the way we give and receive information over the web. Besides being appealing platforms for users, social and online media have massively expanded marketers’ reach. They can now run their own campaigns across numerous, fragmented digital channels–i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google and even Amazon. Fragmentation embodies the growing where for marketing, which supports the ongoing expansion of data and advertising online.

But while fragmentation gives marketers opportunity, it also makes it difficult to gain a comprehensive view of their competitors’ whereabouts. Thus, the multitude of digital fragments exacerbates and shapes the Dark Marketing landscape–and marketers need to keep up.

Fragments, Everywhere You Turn

Everyday users value different media channels for different reasons, and so do businesses. Marketers choose to employ a wide variety of marketing platforms based on campaign goals and target audiences. For instance, YouTube as a video platform is great for bringing brand awareness. Facebook, on the other hand, more effectively promotes ads that get customers to consider conversion or actually convert. Also on Facebook, marketers can also create different post lengths and content types, giving them lots of flexibility. They can even have their own business pages and, like other platforms, use analytics to track their key performance indicators (KPIs). Though sometimes limiting, Twitter’s appeal is its terse communication to convey the bottom lines. With Pinterest and Instagram, marketers can harness visuals to appeal to the emotions. On these sites and more, users are most responsive to the types of ads that are geared to them, to their demographic and their interests, so marketers need to invest in targeting.

While spreading their ad budgets across multiple channels, marketers may also invest in different creatives for each channel – again, targeted to the specific audience. They may also run similar creatives across some channels – for example YouTube and Instagram – but completely different creatives on Facebook and Twitter. Gaining a comprehensive view of all of these different channels, audiences and creatives is extremely challenging.

So where’s the fragmentation? That’s just it–the fragments are everywhere, making up the larger digital marketing ecosystem. Businesses can market on any number of platforms, on which users can be logged in through various tabs, on various browsers, upon various devices. Marketers can choose to display their ads on different platforms, and even select which types of devices they want their ads to display on. Want your ads to show only to mobile users? No problem. Yet, as the digital marketing world expands its reach, so too does the threatening phenomenon of dark marketing.

It’s Good for You... and Your Competition

A growing number of digital platforms enable dark marketing, that is, hidden posts that only display to their targeted audience. For marketers, this is fantastic, since you do not have to waste budget on people you know are not interested in your brand. But here’s the catch: you’re not alone. Your competitors are also circumventing publicly viewable advertising to reach the users of their choice across the fragmented web.

Growing fragmentation can increase your marketing opportunities and help you strategize, but you’re working against your competitive landscape. Knowing who and where your competitors are is key. And seeing how they choose to campaign across the fragments will give you insights into your next marketing moves. With fragmentation continuously growing, being agile is more important than ever.

Make Sense of Fragmentation

We have more digital marketing channels than we’ve ever had before, and conceivably fewer than we’ll ever have again. Seeing ads on Facebook et al., users are absorbed in the world of dark marketing firsthand. Where users go, marketers go. And with competitors in more places, it’s harder and harder to get on top and stay on top as a leading name...especially when you can’t see the totality of your competitors’ campaigns.

BrandTotal’s agile marketing intelligence platform can consolidate the public and dark ads from your competitors, so you can make more sense of the fragmented landscape  and gather key insights. Marketing channels may be fragmented, but your plan to stay agile–especially in the world of dark marketing–shouldn’t be.


Special thanks to Rachel Pleet for support in writing this blog post.

About the author

Alon Leibovich

Alon is the CEO and co-founder of BrandTotal.

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