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Last update: December 2021

4 mins to read - 2021/12/10

Reliability in Push Notifications Is About to Hit Its Stride

If you’re in a group of people and you ask them what they think about push notifications, it’s easy to predict their responses. “I hate them.” “They’re a pain.” Many people will even tell you that they’ve switched off all notifications, like Tim Cook told them to. Notifications are seen as a nuisance, disruptive, and spammy. But the thing is, things don’t have to be that way. Widespread push notification fatigue is largely a result of their unreliable delivery, resulting from the fact that traditional mobile engagement SDKs route all notifications through cloud servers. Lack of reliability in push notifications mean mobile marketers will ping users en masse, and at random times throughout the day, in hopes that a few of their messages grab their attention.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. OpenBack has redesigned the architecture of the mobile push notification SDK, so that notifications no longer have to be sent through the cloud. And this opens up a whole new world of potential for reliable, effective, and user-conscientious push notifications.

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Mobile Engagement SDKs Are Built on a Flawed Structure

Every problem that’s holding push notifications back as a mobile marketing channel – unreliability, failure to delivery, data privacy risk, and even lack of metrics for developers to track – can be traced back to the use of the cloud server for processing data. By using mobile edge computing to bypass the need for a cloud server, all of these pain points are solved.

First, a quick look at the traditional method for sending push notifications. The standard mobile engagement SDKs function by sending a push token – a piece of data generated by push service providers that’s unique to each device – to the cloud. (APNS for Apple devices, and Google Firebase for Android.) While the stint in the cloud is meant to be instantaneous, this is far from how notifications actually deliver.

Notifications are sent out in batches from the cloud, on a basis of last-one-in is the first-one-out. Because of this, reliability in push notifications is far from guaranteed. Delays and delivery failures are commonplace. And if the push token changes on the device’s end – for example, if the app updates – then the process needs to start over for the beginning. What’s more, since the push token is consider personal identifiable information (PII), using a standard push notification SDK for mobile engagement means your app will be liable to any relevant data privacy regulations.

Device-Side Data Is the Key to Reliability in Push Notifications

Sending notifications through a cloud server is an outdated and anachronistic method. Mobile technology has advanced exponentially since the first mobile notifications were sent back in 2009. So why haven’t our expectations for the reliability and deliverability of push notifications evolved as well?

Processing user data directly on the device, and consequently doing away with the cloud server altogether, is the answer. Not only does it solve reliability issues, making for a more streamlined and efficient journey for push notifications, it also nullifies the risk of data privacy breaches. With no need for a push token to be sent off-device to be processed by a 3rd-party server, there is no risk and no liability for your app. Thus, a push SDK that uses device-side processing is fully compliant with all data privacy regulations, and there is no need for your app to send a data-tracking consent prompt to users.

What does this mean in terms of what your push campaign can now do?

signal ctr moment of delivery

Guaranteed Reliability Means You Can Send Push Notifications in True Real-Time

Before, the fact that developers could never be 100% certain when (or if) their push notifications would deliver to devices meant that they had limited control over scheduling notifications for the right moment. There was always the risk of sending notifications at times when they’re sure to go unnoticed, such as when users are sleeping or at work. Hence, the counterproductive tendency to overload users with notifications, in hopes that one or two get clicked on.

With device-side computing providing highly reliable notifications, developers can send a fraction of what they would have sent… but at more appropriate times, when users are more likely to notice. For example, block off windows when you know users are sleeping, driving, or at work/school so that you don’t waste your notifications quota at a time when pings are probably muted. This strategy is called adaptive scheduling, and by tracking metrics and leveraging cutting-edge technology to analyze user habits developers can hone this to an art.

OpenBack can help you take this one step further, with our Device-Decisions Machine Learning signal that combines real-time device-side contextual factors with previous patterns of users’ on-device behavior to predict the perfect moment to send a notification.

Device-Side Processing Means Developers Can Access Full Metrics

This is one of the most little-talked-about and yet valuable aspects of using a push notification SDK that supports device-side data processing. Because conventional push platforms do all the heavy lifting in the cloud, developers receive limited insights as to what happens to their notifications once they are dispatched from the cloud. This means they’re blind as to what strategies and delivery schedules are working, what needs to be tweaking, what goals are being achieved, and so on.

To imagine that any other channel of mobile marketing – for example, email or social media marketing – would let marketers plow ahead without knowing the exact results of past campaigns is inconceivable!

OpenBack’s hybrid mobile engagement device uses edge computing to leverage data entirely on-device by default. As such, OpenBack’s default mode offer high reliablity, complete data privacy, and full metrics on push notifications. Once the superfluous 3rd-party cloud server is fully ousted from mobile engagement, and the process taken totally device-side, then push notifications will finally come into their own as a next-gen mobile marketing channel.

To learn more about OpenBack’s innovative use of edge computing to send highly personalized push notifications at the right moment, get in touch with one of our experts.

Download OpenBack’s Metrics & Measurement Playbook here.

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