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Web push notifications coming to a web browser near you (and now live on

Web push notifications fall far on the left side of this curve currently, but will soon swing to the middle.

Web push notifications fall far on the left side of this curve currently, but will soon swing to the middle.

If you’re using the Safari web browser on Apple OSX Mavericks, you may have noticed something new on the site recently — a pop up notification about getting web browser push notifications for new entries on Journerdism. (If you’ve opted in and have any feedback, I’d love to hear it). If you’re unfamiliar with web browser push notifications, here’s a quick video breakdown from the RJI Futures Lab that talks about them and how the NY Times and Roost uses them.

I’m advising (and recently on the weekends and evenings) part-time working for a start-up called Roost that builds technology for publishing, segmenting and tracking web push notifications. The team is fantastic and they recently announced their selection to the summer 2014 class of Y Combinator (probably the most prestigious and successful tech incubator in the world) and were featured in TechCrunch as providing a possible solution to replace the ailing RSS market.

Don’t get me wrong, this is currently bleeding-edge technology — Safari is the only web browser supporting it live — but Firefox and Chrome have been working on their standards publicly and are both adding push notification support this year (and Roost has been working closely with them so it’ll be integrated quickly into the platform) and as William Gibson said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Once these browser standards go public this year, it’s going to be a kind of a big deal — especially for news orgs — since:

  • Push notifications are one of the big features that news orgs frequently use on mobile apps that they can’t get with a website
  • News junkies love the immediacy of push notifications, especially in niches like sports, business and breaking news
  • RSS is slowly dying in favor of social media, but we’ve seen better engagement rates than sites like Twitter or even email messaging (one of the old school, unsexy, but still most effective messaging platforms) by using web push notifications
  • There’s a ton of ways to customize and segment to users by interests, geolocation, technology, etc. (and more coming in the future)

If you’re interested in learning more about Roost for your site or trying it out yourself, holler at me, or go ahead and sign up to give it a try for free. It takes about 3 minutes to get set up, no credit card required or anything, and they even have plugins for quick integration on WordPress, Drupal and Joomla to make it super easy, as well as a quick javascript snippet that you can drop on any website to install quickly.

Also, there’s a handful of useful guides slowly rolling out that I’ve helped create on web push notification best practices including aggregate data from publishers and pro tips available, such as this handy chart showing more pushes aren’t necessarily better (a big part doing web push notifications well is not abusing the technology or spamming users):


There’s also several ways you can learn more and follow news about web push notifications and Roost:

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