• Digital Strategy

Push notifications for Safari: this could get interesting.

If you missed Apple’s October unveiling of OS X Mavericks, then you may have also missed the release of an incredibly powerful new feature for digital marketers and website managers: Push Notifications for Safari.

Mac users who have actively been using Safari over the past month or so may have started to see this new feature in action, as major web publishers have started to leverage Push Notifications to broadcast top stories and other updates, driving instant page views. So far we’ve noticed the New York Times, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and the NBA all on board. As web publishers continue to fight for share of time with their audience, more than likely this feature is going to gain traction quickly.

Push Notifications for Safari work pretty much the same way as they do with other OS X Apps, like Mail, with a small pop over appearing in the top right corner of the screen displaying a small amount of text along with a website icon and a clickable link. Safari’s preferences provide a few options that users can set to customize how and when these notifications appear – as a banner or an alert (which are nearly the same thing), but we expect most users will stick with the default settings, with those more savvy disabling it altogether.

On the browser side, users that visit a site that has Safari Push Notifications set up will be given the opportunity to opt-in by clicking an Allow button on a browser modal. Once opted in, users can delete any of their subscriptions from the preferences panel within Safari. It’s all pretty straight forward.

Like regular OS X Notifications, Safari’s website Push Notifications are able to be displayed when Safari isn’t running and, if left enabled by the user, on the lock screen as well. So even when a brand or publisher’s customers aren’t navigating the web, updates can still be sent.

Overall, we don’t expect this to be too disruptive to Mac users. Built right into the Mavericks OS, the team at Apple has ported over one of the key features that already drives engagement with iOS Apps on the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. So the usecase is already proven and in place. In fact, it’s somewhat surprising that this feature is only being been brought to market now!

At the same time, these new Safari Push Notifications could easily be seen as spam from websites that choose to abuse the feature by setting a high frequency of notifications. This is already a habitual issue with online retailers and email marketing – we get it, you’re having a sale, but more than one email a day is a bit much. Of course, web managers and marketers want to retain their audience, so finding the right frequency will depend on the type of website, content, and audience.

Of course, Safari Push Notifications are only available to users on Mac, and more specifically, those running OS X Mavericks. Thankfully, Apple also surprised the market by announcing that the latest OS update would be a free upgrade, while the previous OS came with a $19.99 price tag. That should help with getting Mavericks to a penetration rate that makes this new Push Notification service useful. The latest stats from PCMag.com show current adoption of OS X Mavericks at about 10%.

Find out more about Apple’s new Safari Push Notifications here.

Stephen Beck Founder & CEO