AI-powered push notifications will become a key channel for publishers | Tech Rasta


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Publishers need to rethink their monetization strategies.

As the shift toward privacy removes the low-hanging fruit of tracking users and selling user data, publishers have to play the long game — cultivating a dedicated audience by providing their users with authentic, high-quality experiences based on relevant content.

One of the most promising monetization strategies to emerge from this shift is turning push notifications, an old technology, into a way to deliver AI-powered, hyper-personalized experiences. Using push notifications as a reengagement tool to build a loyal audience. In the process, this approach creates a natural long-term way for publishers to grow and improve their programmatic inventory.


Rethinking Push Notifications’ Bad Rap: From Spam Pop-ups to Relevant Reengagement

I’m used to getting pushback anytime I mention push notifications. Push has a reputation as a modern pop-up: annoying to users; A cheap and dirty tool.

That’s because previous iterations of push strategies were the worst – too invasive and spammy, and not included with an audience engagement strategy. Publishers often tricked users into accepting notifications, then spammed them with as many notifications as possible, counting on a small fraction to accidentally click something. It’s a crude, PPC-like model that’s popular because it’s an easy, fast way for a publisher to turn a push into revenue.

But it is not sustainable. In fact, this works against the publisher’s main goal. That strategy cheapens the user experience and alienates an engaged audience.

The new model completely removes the advertising component from push notifications. Push is not a direct revenue channel for publishers. Instead, it is a reengagement tool, a unique platform for publisher and syndicate content, and ultimately an inventory creation tool for publishers.

In the new model, publishers use push notifications to engage with their most engaged audiences. Not bombarding them with 100 notifications a day, but sending them a small number of personalized content recommendations that bring them back to the site later in the day.

To further qualify a publisher’s best and most valuable audience, a push subscription offer may not arrive until the user’s third or fourth site visit. This gives the publisher more insight into what content the user wants, so they can provide better push recommendations from the start.

Through push subscriptions, publishers build a one-on-one, sustainable relationship with these highly valued “power users.” Users see a publisher curate a hyper-personalized, hyper-relevant content feed for them. Publishers will see their content work harder, generate more impressions and drive programmatic inventory that increases ongoing value.

Attract customers with a clear value exchange

Even highly engaged users are wary of signing up for alerts. Marketer-focused push providers use innovative offers to overcome this barrier – often with an attractive discount for subscribers.

Publishers must also recognize that the promise of personalized content must be coupled with an offering of immediate value. For example, a user may gain access behind or within a paywall to restricted content or a limited ad experience. A publisher will quickly offset the relative cost of a sign-up offer through an increase in engagement and page views.

AI transforms Push into a hyper-personalized content platform

Many publishers already use push subscriptions for “breaking news” articles. But the policy is quickly taking a toll as consumers become frustrated with the constant stream of emergencies from every source. Moreover, breaking news is by definition impersonal – and consumers want personalized content.

The new model pushes all published content into its own channel or platform and uses AI to refine the stream of content to a personalized feed for each user.

For example, at Sonobi, our content curation and recommendation engine takes all the content a publisher produces – using AI to understand and categorize that content across multiple dimensions. When a user signs up for push notifications, we can see what content they’re currently reading, and then use AI to suggest the right content to bring them back to the site. That AI gets smarter over time, deeply understanding each user’s interests and preferences to make better recommendations.

But here’s the key: AI not only recommends the right content, but sends those recommendations at the right time, picking the time of the week or day when the user is most likely to engage.

This AI-based optimization makes push a viable strategy for almost any publisher. You don’t have to be the Wall Street Journal or ESPN. AI helps you make the most of the content you have, deploying it intelligently and efficiently to your highest-value audiences.

In fact, Sonobi is using this AI technology to provide affiliate content creation and syndication to some of our publishers that don’t have an editorial-first strategy – letting AI define what type of content their user base engages with.

Push should be a table-stakes strategy for publishers

Here at Sonobi, we’ve made our name over the past decade by constantly pushing publishers forward – from pioneering header bidding to building a cookie-less ID product in 2015, long before all the buzz.

When we first introduced header bidding, almost every publisher rejected us, believing that the approach was only associated with low-quality programs. But as big publishers began to see the serious value, others quickly jumped on board. Today, header bidding is standard in programmatic monetization – and it’s far from any association with “cheap” demand.

Today we’re with Push Notifications: Sonobi and our clients are leading the way in redefining push as table stakes for programmatic businesses that prioritize editorial content. The new model for push subscriptions will be part of an integrated offering in the programmatic marketplace that adds value with relatively little lift.

I see AI-powered push subscriptions as a win-win for everyone: consumers get the hyper-personalized, hyper-relevant content they want, curated through a content feed and delivered directly to their phones. Publishers get the most out of their content, creating a virtuous flywheel – driving re-engagement, increasing loyalty, increasing inventory and driving more effective, sustainable, user and privacy-focused monetization strategies.



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