Push notifications are now omnipresent. You open a news site, it asks you if you want notifications about breaking news. You visit a shopping site, there’s a pop up asking you if you want to know about the latest products. It doesn’t matter if you are browsing the net on your desktop or phone, notifications are everywhere. Each time you open a site, you have to manually go and click the ‘block’, so that it doesn’t bother you, at least for that session. If you are one of those very few who do allow all these notifications, you’ll be alerted by a ‘ding’ from Google Chrome or Firefox when you are working in office or when your mobile phone is lying beside your bed at midnight.

Browser notifications are used by websites to bring in more traffic or more sales in case of e-commerce websites. The website already knows that you are interested in them, so they use this to alert you whenever there’s something new on their site, for the first mover advantage. News sites want you to learn about breaking news from them and not from other sources. After all, they have a bunch of display ads and will earn money only if you visit them.

When these push notifications were first introduced, I accidentally allowed an apparel store to send notifications on Google Chrome. What followed was an annoying experience, at least for me. I would get notifications for products I didn’t want, and the latest reviews written by random people about a product I was casually looking at. I had to put in quite a lot of effort to go into Chrome settings and disable the notifications and ended up clearing all cookies and browsing history including those I needed.

When I worked as a search engine quality rater, the instructions were clear – give a lower rating to any website which gives pop-ups or poor user experience. If that’s how they wanted it, why are they allowing the browser to send pop-ups from every site the user visits? This latest development is actually ruining user experience. If you notice, there is no option in the browser to block these push notifications forever. You can block pop-ups from websites but not push notifications! How nice is that?

I think any feature that gives a poor user experience should be penalised in some form or the user should be allowed to turn this feature off at the browser level. Push notifications from  half a dozen websites can be extremely annoying for most people and clicking the ‘block’ button each time on the browser pop-up is very tiring. I sometimes search for browsers which don’t allow these notifications, yet give the wide range of productivity extensions and features that Google Chrome has.

Browser notifications are a very useful tool for Digital Marketers.  I follow Deepak Kanakaraju’s blog to learn about the latest news related to Online Marketing. A recent post by him explains how to enable these push notifications. In fact, even this particular website has a push notification which irritated me and I blocked it!

push-notifications

Latest data shows that 60% of the users opt out of push notifications. Over time, I hope advertisers, Google and the most popular browsers will realise that this feature is bothering web surfers and will move on to some better and non-intrusive methods of marketing. If I owned an e-commerce store, I surely wouldn’t want to annoy my customers by sending them browser-based push notifications when they are not surfing my website. I wouldn’t want to jump into the push-notification bandwagon, just because it’s the in-thing. This is something for search engines and marketers to think over.

Do you allow push notifications on your browser? What type of notifications do you like and allow? Did you ever struggle to get rid of them? Do share your views below.

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