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Roost Enables Web Push Notifications, Coming Soon To Mobile Browsers
A company called Roost has developed publisher push notifications for PC web browsers. This offers a potential new channel to deliver content or marketing messages via the browser (which can complement or substitute for email). But what’s even more interesting is the prospect of extending this to mobile web browsers.
Currently mobile users can only receive notifications if they have an app installed. Roost’s capability means that publishers and marketers could send notifications to users who haven’t installed their apps. This would be significant in general but especially for verticals like retail where app penetration is relatively low.
The company currently supports Safari on the web only. However it will support Chrome and Firefox starting this fall. Roost told me that push notifications will later come to mobile browsers. The time frame is a little uncertain but it’s near term.
Notifications are entirely opt-in for users (and there’s an easy opt-out). Roost ultimately envisions a situation where users opt-in on the PC and can automatically receive them via their mobile browsers as well — in other words cross-platform notifications. In order for that to happen, however, users will have to be signed in or otherwise identified to the mobile browser.
Hypothetically this would mean: I sign up for notifications on the PC and then could receive geo or other-targeted notifications on my mobile without a separate opt-in. I wouldn’t have to have the relevant app on my phone either. This might give a big boost to HTML5; notifications are a major motivation for developing an app.
When a user clicks on a notification he or she is sent to a publisher-designated landing page. Roost’s Tim Varner told me that opt-in rates for web notifications are approximately 15 percent on average, which is higher than 0.5 percent for email (his numbers).
Mobile browser notifications will appear to users just like app-based notifications. They can be scheduled, personalized and selectively sent on the basis of audience segments. As indicated, they can be location-targeted as well (IP on desktop, GPS in mobile). Publishers have additional options based on other variables like user behavior or content — think product specific notifications coming from a shopping site.
With tools like this there’s always the temptation to spam users. But Varner told me that Roost wants to develop recommended best practices to help publishers and marketers develop effective push tactics that don’t spam audiences.
It’s already well documented that mobile push notifications can be extremely powerful in engaging audiences and driving user behavior. Making them available via mobile browser would dramatically extend their reach and open up all kinds of new scenarios and possibilities. In addition the cross-platform dimension is also extremely valuable to publishers — and marketers.