Interview

PlayHaven's Andy Yang on why you need to get much more from your push notifications

PlayHaven's Andy Yang on why you need to get much more from your push notifications

Building out another piece in its business engine comes PlayHaven's Push.

As the name suggests, it's a push notification system for iOS and Android, that's integrated into the company's other tools.

In this way, Push enables developers to be more flexible in their alerts, both in terms of who and how they notify users.

We caught up with CEO Andy Yang to find more about the service, which is currently in beta.

Pocket Gamer: There are plenty of dedicated push notifications system already out there. Why is PlayHaven looking to get in on the act?

Andy Yang: There are two primary reasons.

To-date, PlayHaven has allowed our customers to message their players within the confines of the game experience. Providing push notifications now enables us to reach out to players once they have left, and the combination of the two is greater than the sum of their parts.

Most, if not all, of our customers currently have to set-up in-game messages within our dashboard and then use another third-party or homegrown push solution to try to tie the two together, which is adds complexity and makes it difficult to close the loop from a data standpoint.

Our customers have been urging us to do so from some period of time now and we are excited to provide an end-to-end solution.

An integrated end-to-end solution

The second reason is that although there are great solutions on the market, they have not been designed with the specific needs of game developers in mind.

Existing solutions are great if a developer is only looking to bring a player back into a game, but that's no longer the case.

Getting them back into the game is only the first step towards better engagement and monetization and the overall market is so much more sophisticated and competitive today - developers are looking to get more out of their push notifications than what is currently being offered.

We've been gathering feedback from game developers of all sizes to understand how we can better address their business needs given a rapidly maturing market. Given what we heard, it was clear that we needed to provide a better push solution for game developers while closing the loop on out of game and in-game relationship management. PlayHaven's Push solution is not only comparable to competitive services but its more flexible and easier for game developers to use.

Finally as a bonus, we get to chip away at the problem of SDK, dashboard, and data overload.

With the launch of Push we have taken one big step towards consolidating everything a developer needs to acquire, engage and monetize their players.

Why are push notifications so important?

Historically, push notifications have been successful in capturing player attention.

With over 41 apps installed on the average consumer's smartphone, cutting through the noise and capturing player attention is key. It has been used primarily as a key marketing tool no different from a billboard or advertisement.

Just advertising spam?

We think the time is ripe for game developers to move beyond using push for pure attention grabbing and have it directly impact player engagement and monetization.

It is also critical to take specific strategies based on who the user is, which is why our industry leading multi-dimensional segmentation technology will act as a force multiplier for anything our customers do.

The current failure of push notifications isn't the technology, it's the inane way they are being used. Why will PlayHaven Push be any different?

Meaningless push notifications are exactly the problem we're aiming to address with our Push solution.

Game developers have to offer a very different product than other apps - simply bringing a player back into the game isn't enough. Players need a rewarding experience so they have a reason to come back.

More specifically, PlayHaven push notifications are integrated with all of our existing engagement tools.

So rather than simply sending a push notification to bring a player back into a game, developers can now target a custom segment of players, take them to a specific location in the game and offer things such as free virtual items/currency and/or merchandise new items that build loyalty and drive more sales.

Do you plan to limit the number that can be send to a game or an individual, and will you provide any best practice advice?

Our platform is designed to give developers the flexibility to be creative and explore and test what works best for them.

Like every marketing strategy, a one-size-fits-all solution is limiting. We do not plan to place restrictions on how many push notifications can be sent for the sake of it.

However, we will be broadcasting best practices on an ongoing basis and one key element will be avoiding spamming players which is not good for anyone involved.

In addition, we have been ramping up a data services team internally that will act as a general resource to help educate our customers on best practices as we continue to learn as well as help them customize the use of our platform to maximize their opportunities.

Our goal is to create happy players and give developers the insights and tools they need to build a successful business.

Running large scale push notification systems is a complex business in terms of backend infrastructure etc, so are you sure you can handle the potential billions of notifications required when the solution scales?

No doubt push requires a complex infrastructure. PlayHaven was built to alleviate these infrastructure burdens from game developers whose only choice was to develop these tools internally.

We already handle tens of billions of transactions per month and are nowhere near our limit. Push is not any more complicated than what we do today and our current architecture allows us to horizontally scale any technology component very rapidly as needed.

Given that we work with some of the largest companies in the gaming industry with some of the most rigorous expectations and associated SLAs, we've been battle tested and are well equipped to scale to level of volume.

Do you have a favourite push notification?

I have two favorites.

The first is not gaming related and it's the push notification I get when someone emails or texts me pictures of my sons.

My favorite gaming related push is the message I get when I haven't played Clash of Clans for some time.

It's something like: "Chief! Your villagers need you!"

I just get this funny image in my mind of my clan praying to the heavens, waiting for the index finger of god to come down and make things right.

You can find out more about PlayHaven Push via its website.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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