Let’s imagine the scene: a familiar sound of system notification is coming from your gadget, you swipe to unlock the screen and see an in-app offer of the day in your favourite app. It’s bright, colourful, and somehow features a huge discount for an in-app item you couldn’t afford to purchase before. The essence of the story is you’ve been lucky enough to receive a personalised push message that replicates the look and feel of system notification, and you’ve probably just made a purchase. The roots of such format effectiveness stem from the straightforwardness of push format perception and the fact that for the advertising market, it is rather a novelty. 

How it started and where it goes

Push ads appeared at the beginning of the 1990s when the PointCast company brought to life the first push technology. First pushes delivered personalised news feeds to the user screens via PointCast Network that was connected to the Internet but required downloading software to computers.

Technology moves fast. Even though the period of 1990 to 2019 is quite a while, today, push ads are finding their way to broader adoption among app publishers. Right, it’s happening because mobile and laptop penetration has been large like never before.

According to STM forum survey, push ads along with natives will become top traffic types by the end of 2019. The survey states that low-cost push traffic will grow in value, even more for those businesses that have their own customer databases, as they retrieve the utmost from already loyal clientele who voluntarily provided their data.

Is the user database the only factor that determines the success of push format? Not really. Today, push ads are served via algorithmic buying platforms. Their connectivity enables the integration of all data types: the company’s own CRM data and non-personal data purchased from third-party providers, which are furtherly used for targeting. Again, if it’s the best time for push ads and they’re in high demand, publishers with premium quality mobile and desktop inventory will be widely sought after.

What benefits do push ads bring to the publishers? 

Higher demand – higher incomes

Push notifications are considered to be non-intrusive. Unlike traditional ads that are displayed to users by default, pushes arrive on the screens of those users who provided their consent and subscribed to receive notifications. This will bring the conscious users who know what they are looking for to the website or app. Such good quality audiences will attract more advertisers who look for good, quality traffic. Naturally, when their number increases, the publisher is able to choose among the best offers that demand pool features and this way maximise their yield. 

Freedom from ad blockers and fraud 

Native ad formats are actively combined with push notifications as a universal advertising format able to increase user loyalty and dodge ad blockers in the mobile environment. Non-irritating seamless native experience blended with deliverability of pushes trigger user engagement and more in-app purchases. Since push is delivered directly to the user’s screen, its guaranteed impression count will not be affected by ad bots that typically inhabit web environment.
Source of traffic for affiliate programs

Push notifications are proven to bring stable volumes of traffic to experienced affiliate marketers and newbies. Furthermore, this traffic is affordable across all evergreen verticals, and it is relatively cheap and will remain so for the next couple of years. The quality of the traffic is also pretty much decent, the campaigns are easy to get approved, and the average opt-in rate will normally exceed what you expect of it: 53.3% versus 2% of email.


Their open rate can reach 8.8%. That means that if 20,000 people click on the ad, you can get 1760 visitors to your landing. There’s more to it; previously, all traffic went to the target landing page where you could feature a single offer. After push technology is installed on the website, it starts sending the push with an offer. Do you have another offer? Send it with another link to your landing. Applying already accumulated contact list will enhance trust since customers already understand who they are receiving the notification from.

Delivery configuration

Modern technologies enable marketers to send millions of push ads across mobile and desktop environments. Delivery speed is complemented by personalisation settings available at programmatic advertising solutions designed for media trading. Publishers can use supply-side platforms to determine the future performance of push ads at their app or website – the appearance of the ad, the budget (floor price) per impression, etc.
In-app purchase encouragement

Push ads give publishers yet another opportunity to catch up on users when they leave the website or app without purchasing something. Without having to return users to the app or website again, publishers can promote in-app items (mobile games), remind customers about the app if they haven’t visited for a while, and report about what’s new in stock. The list goes on.

Challenges and future of pushes

According to a number of studies, the effectiveness of personalised push notifications can be 800% higher than the effectiveness of ordinary messages. The readiness of an average user to subscribe to the pushes is also growing, and this is especially true for the mobile sector. At the same time, this trending format also faces challenges.
Changing regulation: There’s always a chance for the new regulation or a new policy to chip in that will shatter the already profitable ad campaign or mechanism of app monetisation. There’s no out-of-pocket defence from changes in general, and the ad market rarely meets equilibrium and particular formats are no exception. With Google Bans and Chrome updates for traditional browser ads, competition for push inventory will only rise. In such a competitive environment, only the best advertisers will continue to find the sweet spot to make it work. For this, they will have to use sophisticated personalization and a responsible approach to ad serving.


Push notification can add a new layer of interactivity to the advertising mix, which is necessary for consistent, long-term, unintrusive communication with users. Instead of resorting to web formats, mobile publishers can apply pushes as a way to avoid potential search engine restrictions, as protection from ad fraud, and a robust tool for augmenting yields gained from advertising. The game rules are pretty much the same. The frequency of impressions should be enough to leave a trace but not enough to irritate the viewer. The message itself needs to be personalised to correspond to the customer’s needs, and finally, people need to have the freedom to easily unsubscribe if they need. This is what’s called a responsible approach to advertising that helps advertisers to retain the users and resist enhanced competition. The better results advertisers will retrieve from the ad campaigns, the more inventory monetisation opportunities will arise from the ad market in the near future.