Story excerpt provided by Kevin Volz.
Startup company Roost is an innovator in web push notifications, and thanks to a new relationship with Google, that trend looks to continue. The company based in Toledo, Ohio, was the first to develop a system allowing brands to send web push notifications through desktop web browsing, no app required. Roost is now taking its technology mobile, supporting the push notifications on Google Chrome and Android devices. This is the first time they are available for the mobile web.
“It’s a pretty big moment for us,” said Tim Varner, co-founder at Roost. “This will really expand web push notifications to the majority of people browsing online and we expect other browsers to follow suit.”
Web push notifications are pop-up messages from companies that alert users who have opted in to something new that they may find of interest. Unlike pop-up ads, which often fill a whole screen and are hard to avoid, push notifications are more discreet. They can appear in screen corners or along the top of a screen and, when clicked, take users to a landing page with relevant information. For instance, a company selling sunglasses can send web visitors messages directly to their phones about special sales, articles they may enjoy reading or new product launches.
Before launching in Chrome, web push notifications were only available for desktop-based Safari browser use, which accounts for roughly 4-5% of browser market share worldwide. Chrome, both on desktop and Android, accounts for 50% or more of browser market share, a big expansion for Roost. In addition, Varner anticipates that other browsers will organize around the standard that Chrome is introducing and web push notifications will become as common to people’s web browsing experience as any other online interaction.
“One of the biggest objections brands have had to web push up to this point has been low browser market share,” said Varner. “Now that there’s a majority of browser market share, we anticipate there to be a steady march of brands, from commerce to SaaS (software as a service), using web push to engage their audiences.”
Web push notifications have typically been used as ways for brands to relay “breaking news” to their customers quickly – things like sales, pricing or inventory changes. With larger browser share comes the ability to make these notifications more interactive. For example, users will receive notifications on their Android devices when a certain number of friends all like one product on partner websites. Like all other push notifications, these ads will appear discreetly and users will be able to click the messages to be taken to the product.
Roost has an immediate opening for a new engineer, with plans to add additional engineers in the coming months to support this expansion. While a majority of the Roost team is now located in New York City, the company will maintain a satellite office presence in Toledo. The founders credit the support of Ohio Third Frontier and its partner incubator LaunchPad for Roost’s success.
“We’re fortunate that we are in an exciting space and that we have a product that is growing rapidly. But those things are not possible unless you have investors early on who are willing to risk capital to help your company get off the ground,” said Varner. “It was really that early support in Toledo and Ohio that allowed us to get to this point. We recognize that and we’re very thankful for it.”