Calling it now: Push Notifications will go the way of social media

By Myles Kleeger, President and Chief Revenue Officer

After a summer and fall packed with updates from technology giants like Google and Apple, marketers are settling into life with the new parameters for how and when to engage with users.

Of these updates, Android’s new push notification channels may be among the most consequential for marketers, as they allow brands to organize their push notifications in more intelligent ways (i.e. transactional vs. promotional, text vs. images, personal vs. business, etc.) and users to further customize their push notification experiences by choosing which types of push notifications they would like to opt into, or out of, from a brand (rather than all or none).

How will push notification channels change push?

In some ways, the introduction of notification channels will make push work more like email, with better organization of messages, and more fine-tuned controls. This should improve the experience for both users and brands.

Push notifications may continue down this path (with more advanced functionality added to them along the way), but my question is this: Can we assume that the delivery of push notifications will always work as as it does today, with every user-enabled message guaranteed to be “delivered” to the device? Or, will push notification delivery evolve and ultimately resemble modern social feeds more than modern email inboxes?

Learning from the past to predict the future

Consider the history of the social media platforms. If you recall, social media feeds started as simple chronological streams of content with no intelligence around how they were organized. Then in 2011, Facebook introduced its EdgeRank, which used an algorithm to predict which content to place in your feed based on past interactions and behavior. That meant not every user saw every message from the brands or people that they followed; Facebook decided what they saw. In theory, the most interesting and engaging content would win out, and the user experience would improve as a result.

Given the proliferation of apps and notification types, will Google or Apple eventually decide to introduce their own algorithms to exert more control over the push notification experience in the name of user experience? Will the platforms be in a position to decide which notifications make it through to end users, and which do not? Will they ultimately curate our push notification experience? I think they very well might.

One step further: Is pay-for-play in push’s future?

Taking things one step further, what if the platforms decide to directly monetize the delivery of push notifications? Social media history provides another lesson here in the form of social advertising, which effectively became a requirement for brands to ensure that their content and messages would appear in their loyal followers’ feeds.

Considering how both Google and Apple already monetize their app stores with paid advertising placements for app installs, it is entirely possible that the future of push notification delivery could evolve into a pay-for-play model where brands are required to pay the platforms a fee to ensure that their push notifications (at least their marketing or promotional push notifications) are delivered to end user devices. This would not surprise me in the least.

No matter what happens next, an increased focus on creating useful and relevant notifications for your users will undoubtedly be central to a winning strategy. None of us knows if push notification delivery will eventually go the way of social feeds, but as is the case with all innovation, the future belongs to the responsive and adaptable.

Learn more about Push Notification Channels here.