29. “What problem does it solve?”

…asked the employees of Urban Airship, strategically.

On Friday, I had the privilege of traveling up to Portland with fellow UO Ad Society members and professor Harsha Gangadharbatla to get a crash course in push notifications and giant bird nests (more on giant bird nests in another post).

Arriving in Portland around 10 AM, we found ourselves at Urban Airship, a relatively new B2B start-up company that specializes in push notifications for Smart Phone applications. Along with push notifications, they also deal with in-app purchases, subscriptions and tracking app usage, to name a few. While it may sound like it’s just all technical, there is so much more going on inside this new airship. They’re strategizing.

(sorry for the blur! Camera phones…)

As I’m learning in my Digital Brand Strategy class, strategy is crucial if you want to be successful in digital. Digital is exciting, causing some companies and brands to ask for a website or application before they even figure out if they really need it. Everyone might want an app, but not everyone has a use for it. Is it something the customer wants? A pointless app is simply a waste of the customer’s time, creating a bit of tension in the brand/customer relationship.

At Urban Airship, they advised that if your brand is going to go digital, make sure it’s to solve a problem. Because Urban Airship works with apps that have already been created, they don’t have a say as to whether a brand should have an app or not. What’s done is done! What they do get to do, however, is figure out the best way to reach a customer with a push notification. If done correctly (and strategically!) a push notification serves as a two-way communication platform between a brand and its customer. Some great examples of push notifications put to good use would be in new apps such as Miso or the ESPN app, sending stats about games and players.

We spent most of our time with employee Jamie Burton, a recent UO graduate, who gave us a tour and presentation about the company. Thank you, Jamie!

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