The State of Push Notification Advertising

    Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

    Edited by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and…Read more

    Push notification

    Shelley Seale is a journalist, content creator, award-winning writer, author, publication designer, editor and communications professional. She can be reached at www.shelleyseale.com. and Twitter

    What’s Happening:

    Adoption of push notifications — clickable website alerts sent by a publisher to its audience — to engage users is on a rise. These notifications aim at retaining the website visitors with personalized and timely content updates that help publishers own, engage and build a loyal audience.

    A comprehensive report on the current state of push advertising has just been released by iZooto, marking the first time a report covering push notification ads has been published. The report discusses where are we heading with push notifications and more specifically push notification advertising.

    Stay up to date on the latest news, trends, and best practices in digital publishing.

    Why It Matters:

    First introduced in 2015 by Chrome, push notifications yield a higher CTR (.5-3%) and more visibility than most marketing channels, making them a potential new favorite. Advertising through these notifications delivers a specific format of an ad using a web push. Because these ads are delivered directly to the device of the user, they don’t necessarily compete to occupy space on the publisher’s website.

    However, according to Vivek Khandelwal, founder of iZooto, push notifications ads are currently in the same state that the internet was in around 1995 — everyone trying new things and just making it up as they go along.

    In putting together the report, iZooto wanted to understand three key areas:

    • How user experience continues to reshape impact of web push notifications
    • How publishers landed on best practices that the ad format saw in 2018
    • What the challenges ahead in 2019 are.

    To do this, iZooto analyzed more than 15,000 marketers and 500 publishers and editorial teams, to find out how they use push notifications. During the course of the research they analyzed a total of 45+ billion push notifications.

    Digging Deeper:

    Internet advertising is optimized for one thing: attention, and action after that attention (i.e. click-through). Push notification ads are unlike any other ad format and command a lion’s share of user attention — making them an extremely visible media inventory. They also do not compete with banner ads or blog posts for attention.

    In delving deeper into the current state and future of push notification ads, the iZooto study reported on several key findings.

    • Web push notifications have a two-fold impact on publisher revenue

    They drive user engagement and increase traffic, which help serve more impressions. Engaging an audience consistently with push notifications can increase traffic by as much as 20% — translating into higher ad revenue.

    They also allow publishers to leverage native content ads, without competing with existing ads. Plugging in native with push notifications generates incremental revenue.

    • Monetization of push notifications

    Taking a scenario of a U.S.-based audience of 100,000 monthly unique viewers, an average opt-in rate of 4% and subscriber churn of 20%, in six months a push notification audience could grow to more than 15,000 subscribers. This is based on sending two push notifications daily. Sending an additional two notifications each day could result in more than 18,000 clicks and revenue of $1,828 in the first month.

    • The excitement around push notification ads

    Building an audience using push notifications gives publishers an opportunity to maximize the lifetime value of their site visitors. With native content ads served using notifications, publishers can directly monetize that opportunity and boost their ad revenue by up to 15% month-on-month.

    They also represent new real estate for advertising. Publishers are constantly seeking to solve the puzzle of how to make more advertising revenue, without serving more ads on their websites. Push notifications are an answer to that challenge because they are delivered to the user’s device and not a webpage.

    In addition, push notification ads enjoy better visibility. They are resistant to ad blockers and so enjoy a disproportionately higher viewability compared to display ads.

    • Understanding subscriber lifetime and churn

    One swipe and one click are all it takes for subscribers to give a publisher the cold shoulder and walk away. Browsers have ensured that opting out of notifications is very easy, and your audience has complete control over their experience. Subscriber churn essentially means that you can’t push notifications to those users again.

    It is important to understand what triggers churn. Causing too much friction and annoyance will aggravate your audience enough that they decide to opt-out completely. Essentially, a subscriber’s lifetime is defined by user experience.

    • Best practices

    The report identified a number of best practices to rule out the hot spots:

    • Limiting the number of ads pushed
    • Good ad quality
    • Contextual advertising
    • Identifying the best times to push ads

    Identifying the best time to prompt users to subscribe is key, as is repetition. Users don’t trust brands they are coming across for the first time, and need content for credibility before hitting the subscribe button. The same thing is true for allowing push notifications — visitors hit “allow” if they’ve read enough and like the content, a publisher is providing.

    • Creating a better subscription experience

    Certain prompts perform better than others. iZooto analyzed the reports with the conversion and the block rates of all the prompts for three months, to come up with combined averages for various prompts which are detailed in the study.

    Average Opt-In Rate Average Block Rate
    Central Modal
    Desktop 0.14% 3.9%
    Mobile 0% 0%
    Dialog Box
    Desktop 0.69% 7.33%
    Mobile 3.86% 6.6%
    Full Screen Pop-Up
    Desktop 0.93% 6.48%
    Mobile 5.06% 5.77%
    Native Prompt
    Desktop 0.94% 3.10%
    Mobile 1.71% 2.48%
    Right Sidebar
    Desktop 1.74% 1.03%
    Mobile 0.21% 0.09%
    Slide-Up Box (Bottom)
    Desktop 2.30% 1.66%
    Mobile 0.49% 0.75%
    Slide-Up Box (Top)
    Desktop 2.30% 3.51%
    Mobile 0.49% 18.86%
    • The landscape for publishers and scalability

    Publisher’s analysis while choosing a web push service provider needs to target its monetization and engagement capabilities. But what about scalability? Khandelwal says that entirely depends on how marketers in the ecosystem use or abuse the channel. As long as marketers are able to be mindful of the user experience by maintaining context in their ads, nothing can keep the channel from scaling.

    The Bottom Line:

    The report identified a number of metrics that publishers need to focus on:

    • Building Audience. Look at opt-in rates, the subscription experience and audience size, growth rate and trends. It is also important to track and understand the potential impact of push notification setup on your website bounce rate.
    • Understanding Audience. Growth rate, subscriber churn, measuring subscriber lifetime and tracking cohorts per device type.
    • Engaging Audience. Tracking and analyzing campaign performance, and analyzing the impact of campaigns.
    • Measuring Impact. This can be done through metrics such as sessions generated and their duration, bounce rates, and pages per session.

    “Every new marketing channel enjoys a ‘leverage window’ that gives you an opportunity to compounded returns,” Khandelwal says. “The attention that push notifications are getting from both users and marketers places it right at the center of the leverage window. The focus needs to shift from local maxima.”

    Access the full 40-page Push notification ads – iZooto report here.


    This report has been exclusively provided to the State of Digital Publishing team for first coverage, and in no manner proposes to be a sponsored piece from iZooto. We thank the iZooto team for their analysis and findings.



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