How Small Businesses Can Use the Power of Dark Marketing

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How Small Businesses Can Use the Power of Dark Marketing

“Dark Marketing” – the name itself gives a hidden, secretive angle to it. The concept of this marketing method is similar to that. Dark marketing is what “work in silence, let your success make the noise” would mean. The basics of dark marketing in the digital world are way different from traditional marketing. You design an advertisement, define your target group and its metrics, launch the ad campaign and then monitor it.

However, unlike traditional marketing, your ads are only visible to the targeted audience and they won’t be visible on your account of the chosen platform.

Does it sound confusing?

Here, for example, if a netizen aged 22, likes fashion trends and specifically shoes, the social media platform they are using will inform companies like Nike to advertise themselves to such individuals. The company can then create multiple variations of the same ad with minute differences and run the campaigns, get insights in real-time and then implement those changes in days.

In contrast to traditional marketing, in dark marketing, the intention is to create content without identifying the advertiser. The content must be intriguing and enticing in order to pique the viewer’s interest and compel him to learn who developed it.

How Nike Still Uses Dark Marketing

Nike is one of the pioneers in dark marketing. Back in 2009, the brand collaborated with the starlet Taylor Momsen for a commercial where the brand’s name was not mentioned even once. Taylor was seen chased by paparazzi and the only time Nike appears is when the camera subtly zooms onto her feet.

This is a classic example of how companies implant themselves in the potential customer’s mind while being hidden behind a mask.

Check out the video to understand the concept better:


You Cannot See Dark Marketing

As a viewer, you might not be able to immediately distinguish between an ad from dark marketing and any other form of digital marketing. Yet, most advertisers are moving towards dark marketing now.

Today, 90% of Twitter ads, 85% of Facebook ads, and 60% of YouTube ads are “dark” or hidden from public view.

With dark marketing, you can target your ads in the most precise manner possible. What used to be limited to only demographics has been now extended to numerous other metrics including age, job titles, likes, and dislikes. Dark marketing allows marketers to create as personalized advertisements as possible.

This also helps them to save their resources from getting wasted on non-prospective audiences.

Dark ads are often referred to as ‘unpublished posts’ as well, due to being absent on the company’s social page. You can still promote an event or a product in the customer’s news feed.

For example: 

Apple hasn’t tweeted a single thing in almost the last 10 years but it still might be visible on your feed with dark marketing.

Zero Tweets by official Apple Twitter Account

Its tweets just reach the targeted audience and are only visible to them and not on the account.

Features of Dark Marketing

There are three distinct features of Dark Marketing:

Fragmentation –

The social media world is large. There are many platforms for your audience to be preset on; some being more popular than others. Fragmentation is simply deciding which platform you want to choose and for what type of ad.


For instance, you might want to choose an ad for Facebook users on both mobile and desktop devices, while for YouTube you want to focus on just mobile devices.


Segmentation – Your audience is variegated, isn’t it? Some are existing customers that you want to retarget, some of them are new customers who are quickest to turn into customers, some are influencers and some of them are decision-makers.To target them all differently, you can form clusters of similar target groups and then, execute your advertisements for them.

Personalization – In personalization, each campaign is targeted for a specific purpose and aimed at a specific individual. You can have one ad but multiple copies of it for different individuals. For example, if someone travels to Mauritius often, Facebook knows this based on photos they’ve posted or places where they have “checked in.” Facebook can then sell a travel company, like Trivago, ad space on their newsfeed for Mauritius hotels.

Dark Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses

If you own a small business and do not use dark marketing to your advantage, you are missing out on gaining the top share in your customer’s minds.

In the digital world, it is more than easy to reach out to your customer in the comfort of your home. All you need is a great strategy and flawless execution. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you out.

Be a Fast Mover

The trends, technologies, and tastes change every day. And especially for small businesses, it becomes important to adapt to the quickly shifting trends to survive and flourish.

First Mover Advantage

With dark marketing you stay updated about the current opportunities, considering you monitor your ad analytics well. For this, create workflows that let you take an idea from concept to execution within a few hours. Try to reduce the time for the entire process of strategizing and implementing an ad campaign.

You can also do this by shortening the approval process so campaigns don’t get stuck. It will help if you’re only targeting one or two defined audiences.

Along with that, keep your marketing team all set on the updates in segmented marketing. If every member knows how to separate and attack different channels with different techniques, you can become a fast & maybe even the first mover for the industrial environment.

Target Audience with Specific Traits

This is Dark Marketing’s forte. While creating your ad you can go in-depth to minute specifications of age, gender, nationality, online behaviour, job titles, location, likes, dislikes and many more traits,

Before dark marketing, parameters were limited to demographics, but now you can use more specific targeting.  By using dark marketing you can go beyond traditional methods, and seek audiences with highly specific traits.

Through this, small businesses can invest their resources in targeted audiences according to their interests and wants. You can show different ads to different people under the same ad campaign.

campaing of inshorts


For example, in one of the recent campaigns, Inshorts had targeted different target groups with different ads but the same campaign.

One of these might be suitable to reach out to customers who liked the app’s ‘Notification’ feature while the other might be suitable for people who liked the factual news.

Use A/B Testing

Related to the advantage stated earlier, you can create multiple copies of the same ad but with subtle differences, These individual ads can be targeted to the same audience, making it easier to monitor the performance, since the entire target group shares the same interests. Rather than waste money and confuse your audience, use A/B testing to create multiple versions of ads for your audience to see which ones perform better.


Traditional marketing campaigns make A/B testing more difficult. How will you figure out which ad is performing better without any similarity and consistency in your audiences and conditions?

Dark marketing solves this problem. You test multiple ad variations on the same group, analyze them, and decide which ones to continue and which ones to stop.

Hide Your Revenue Generation Secrets

Your competitors are lurking around to see what techniques you are using to increase business. One of the best ways to do that is by observing your ads. But dark marketing allows you to be incognito and be only visible to your target groups.

As we saw with Apple, it advertises itself regularly but the competitors cannot see the ads since nothing is out on Apple’s social media accounts. Considering that nothing will be posted on your website/company page for marketing, you can hide your marketing techniques and advertisements from your competitors.

If executed appropriately, dark marketing immediately drives revenue without revealing to the rest of the industry how it was generated.

Revenue-generation secrets in dark marketing

To watch an advertisement in dark marketing, you have to be a member of the target group that the marketers, that is YOU, have set up.

To Sum Up

As beneficial as it is, dark marketing is a vast concept. If done correctly, it can yield surplus results overnight. But at the same time, without proper research, execution and monitoring, it can lead to wasted efforts.

Is it worth a try? Well, looking at the numbers, most certainly.

However, if you still have confusion or queries regarding it, check out PPC marketing for further details or contact us directly.

Anyway, the comment section is open for you to drop your queries, suggestions and views.