Learn About Mobile Dark Social

fusion.pngThere’s an interesting article on fusion.net on dark social and mobile dark social. This isn’t some illicit part of the Internet but instead is about traffic on web sites that has no referrer. i.e. The previously visited ‘place’ wasn’t a conventional web site and hence isn’t known for analytics purposes. For example, the user might have typed a URL into their web browser, cut and pasted a web address or clicked on a link in an app.

The article explains how we already spend more time in apps than in desktop or mobile web browsers (originally from Benedict Evans)…


The article then continues to make a case for much of the mobile dark social (traffic) to be coming from Facebook and the Facebook’s mobile apps. If true, this has consequences for Search and the continuing prominence of Google. Coincidentally, only yesterday there were many media articles on how the new, much better, Facebook Search might also be a threat to Google.

What does this mean for app developers? There are two main areas, linking out and linking in…

  1. Apps with links. Users are increasingly getting used to linking out from apps to web sites. What about in your app? Think how you might leverage this for your own app’s purposes. As I previously mentioned, using webviews has usability and security implications. Hence, I prefer linking out to the mobile web browser rather than opening your own or 3rd party sites within the app. You might, for example, link out to your own ad funded or affiliate link funded sites in order to gain indirect revenue. Alternatively, if you are a brand or offer a service, the app might just be a lead in to your main content offering on the web.
  2. If Facebook is becoming the new Google, it makes sense to market your app via Facebook. Apart from having a Facebook presence for your app, consider Facebook’s Open Graph API to increase app uptake. The idea is that an iOS or Android app can create actions that are published to the user’s timeline. When their friends click on the actions, they are either pointed to the app or deep linked into the app depending on whether they already have the app installed. Many top apps use this mechanism.