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For some time now, push notifications have been possible on mobile devices without native apps and on desktop browsers. This opens up new opportunities for publishers and e-commerce companies to contact users directly. They benefit from an app-like user experience. In this article we will highlight the current status quo of web push notifications and show potentials.

How Web Push Notifications Works

They were already established on the smartphone years ago, in the world of desktop browsers they are just beginning to arrive – we’re talking about push notifications. Billions of notifications are sent to users’ end devices every day. But push messages are not always push messages. First of all, it is relevant whether it lands on the home screen using a native smartphone app or whether it is a so-called Progressive Web App (PWA). If you’ve never heard of PWAs before, it’s better to memorize the term quickly, because especially Google is pushing this new type of “app without app” forward with great strides.

The difference between the two technologies is quickly explained: while a native smartphone app is installed directly on the end device via an app store and loads the content into a fixed user interface, a progressive web app is nothing more than a website that the user accesses via his browser and has the functions of a native app. Now you might think that a progressive web app would simply be a mobile-optimized website (also called a mobile web app), but this would not do justice to the technology. The advantage of the PWA is that it can directly address components on the end device, e. g. a smartphone camera, and thus makes them usable without a native app. This principle is also applied to web push notifications – not only on mobile devices, but also in desktop browsers.

Website operators who provide their site with PWA functionality can obtain the user’s consent to receive push notifications directly from Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Co. out of it. It doesn’t matter whether the website is accessed via smartphone, tablet or desktop browser. Anyone who agrees to receive Web Push Notifications will receive regular notifications of new content and offers from the sender. On mobile devices, the notifications are displayed on the home screen in the same way as for native apps; on stationary computers, they are displayed at one of the screen borders, depending on the browser.

Google drives Web Push Notifications forward

When web developers were asked at the end of 2015 which features of native mobile apps they lack most on the web, the most common answer was “Push Notifications”. In the last 1.5 years, Google in particular has done pioneering work in this area and impressively demonstrated with its proprietary browser Chrome that web push notifications can change the way websites communicate with their users in the future. Technically speaking, so-called “service workers” make it possible to display notifications even when the user is not surfing the sender’s website. These are small JavaScript applications that keep the browser of the respective end device ready to receive. The feature was also quickly made available on Firefox, Safari and Opera. On smartphones and tablets, where the background processes of the browser apps are active anyway, Web Push notifications can be delivered at any time, even if the browser app is not currently open. For stationary devices, at least the browser must be open so that Web push notifications can be displayed. Conversely, this means that anyone who closes their browser completely on a Windows PC or MAC, e. g. by means of a task manager, cannot receive notifications in real time.

The basic prerequisite for sending Web push notifications is HTTPS. Website operators who have not yet used an SSL certificate should therefore improve this service in order to be able to use the service. This hurdle is primarily used to protect users, as it is particularly important for push messages to be able to clearly determine the origin of the message.

Web push notifications offer new possibilities for users and companies

Now that progressive web apps and thus also web push notifications are ready for the market, they are becoming increasingly popular with publishers and e-commerce companies. No wonder, the technology connects website operators and users closely with each other without unnecessarily building up large hurdles. The installation of your own app to be informed about current content or the latest offers is no longer necessary with the Web push notifications. Users are offered a simple and convenient way to avoid having to actively access a website and still be kept up to date. It has been proven that users pay more attention to notifications on the home screen or in the corner of their screen than, for example, ad banners. This results in far higher click-through rates than with conventional online advertising.

A particular advantage of Web push notifications is the desktop area. In order to be informed about new content in real-time and in the form of headlines, users used to have to fall back on social networks such as Twitter. Only with the browser-based push technology is real time information possible. In addition, Web push notifications are also the hallmark of the controversial ad blockers. Since the notifications are not called up in the browser itself, but via the “Service Worker” described above, Adblock Plus and Co. no chance to block the content. Users still retain full control over who is allowed to send push notifications, because they agree to receive the messages for each individual device – and have the possibility to change their decision at any time.

Companies that want to stay in direct contact with their target group will benefit enormously from the new possibilities of Web Push technology. A large number of vendors have quickly established themselves worldwide, offering the integration of Web push notifications as a SaaS solution for companies. IOSIS in particular has made a name for itself on the German market with ioPUSH. Regardless of the provider, it turns out that the technology is very well accepted by users and that click-through rates on push notifications are often around 20 percent on average. Publishers can also expect a longer retention period for their articles when using web push notifications and online shops can expect significantly better conversion rates than, for example, social media ad campaigns.

ioPUSH: Free Testing of Web Push-Notifications

ioPUSH is one of the most advanced push notification technologies for mobile and desktop browsers. Register now for our free basic membership limited to 750 push subscriptions and test ioPUSH for free on your magazine, blog or online shop. Integration into your own website takes no more than three minutes. Simply copy the provided HTML code into your page. A step-by-step tutorial can be found in your account.

Summary as PR message:

Web push notifications: new possibilities for users and companies

It’s hard to imagine smartphone apps without having just arrived on the web: push notifications conquer all popular browsers, offer app-like user experiences and have the potential to drive short message services such as Twitter out of the market.

Service workers do the background work

In the past one and a half years, Google has done pioneering work and pushed Web push notifications in the company’s own chrome browser. To make push notifications work without native apps on smartphones, tablets and desktops, so-called service workers are used. These are small JavaScript applications, which in the context of progressive web apps (PWA) take over the task of keeping the browser in readiness – and thus ready to receive. This means that Web push notifications can only be transmitted to end devices, even though the user has not actively opened the browser or surfed on the sender’s website. Since the end of 2016, Web push notifications have been available on all major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera) and across platforms (mobile and stationary).

ioPUSH as German solution for web push notifications

Web push notifications give users maximum control over their content, allowing them to choose which companies to send them notifications. Publishers and online shops in particular benefit enormously from this new, direct way of communicating with users. The SaaS solution ioPUSH, developed by the German startup IOSIS, records click rates of an average of 20 percent on push notifications just a few months after its introduction. Publishers can send the latest and best content to the end devices of the users, initial evaluations show that this will extend the time spent on the publisher’s site. On the other hand, eCommerce companies report significantly higher conversion rates to pushed offers.