Until recently, mobile users had to visit a Web site’s home page and search within the site to find the content they needed. Given that 90 percent of our time is spent in apps — and they represent the majority of digital media time spent— that’s a lot of frustration from having to take additional steps to get to the specific URL of the content you’re looking for, whereas on the Web you only take one.
With the introduction of iOS 9, deep-linking -- or the ability to jump directly to a specific location within an app via a dedicated link — is now possible. Recognizing the opportunity to get more traffic, app publishers and developers have been scrambling to define their infrastructure and create their own schema for others to deep link into their content.
Deep linking is a giant step for mobile publishers and app developers, as it will allow them to be on par with desktop when it comes to the manual search and digital assistant experience, surfacing content that was previously invisible. So what’s next?:
Users will live solely within the app ecosystem
As app publishers and developers create their maps and search engines index their content, not only will users be pushed deeper into apps from mobile search, but other apps will also direct them to those pages. In many cases, users might begin their journey from recommendation-filtered apps like Yelp.
Contextual targeting will improve dramatically
With the influx of indexed information and specific content from pages within an app, contextual targeting will finally realize its potential. Marketers can deliver far more relevant ads to users, since they will be based on rich content of the specific pages visited.
Ad tech will rise to the occasion
The big search players will certainly be creating patches that will make deep-linking useful for marketers, but even smaller ad-tech companies today are providing those solutions. Companies like Quixey and Airomo are already crawling the app stores, indexing the pages based on tags, and then algorithmically determining which ads to serve -- now, even natively -- so advertisers can begin immediately.
CPG, travel and entertainment will jump on board first
This was an easy one to see coming, as the clear first example of deep linking is with product IDs. Apps like Amazon have over 200M products for sale in the U.S. alone, and if each of those products has a unique mobile ID, an ad featuring that product could navigate the user to its exact page within the Amazon app to purchase.
For travel and entertainment, the opportunity is also clear. An ad that takes a user to the exact page on a hotel-booking app, for instance, means they start their in-app experience already far down the path to purchase. Retargeting also comes into play; if a user was browsing tickets to a sporting event within the app but didn't purchase, they can get hit with an ad for that same event, taking them back to the same screen.
Convenience = Conversion
Deep linking both improves the user experience and removes layers of the sales funnel, resulting in higher conversions. Mobile users value convenience and speed above nearly everything else, and without all those extra steps there will be less drop-off during the entirety of the customer journey.
Mobile payments will follow
The only step missing on the full path to purchase is in mobile payments. Say you are on IMDB looking at the reviews of a recently released movie; a deep link within IMDB could take you to the exact page within Fandango that shows where the movie is playing near you. To buy those tickets, you would need a Fandango account…but with Apple Pay integration, you will soon be able to purchase with one press of a finger.
Imagine how happy brands will be when they can say their ad campaign resulted in 20,000 video views, or metrics on how many people viewed a particular product. That kind of measurable ROI is what will finally boost mobile marketing budgets to where they should be. And the deeper insights and analytics marketers will then have about buyers, beyond the mere click or install, will push budgets even beyond those limits.