Deep links are a way to realize the full potential of user experience and mobile commerce through intuitive app connections. It’s a rapidly developing space, with startups like URX and Deeplink as well as tech giants like Google and Facebook going all in for the future of mobile.
In a trendy little event space in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Wednesday night, startups, developers and curious bystanders met to discuss deep linking, the business interests driving it, and the challenges the technology faces, at Deeplink.NYC.
The event, hosted by Eniac Ventures, was one of the first to put several of these deep linking, app search and mobile commerce companies in the same room. Four startups—Deeplink, URX, Button and Wildcard—talked deep linking, demoed their apps and APIs, and hosted a forum moderated by Google’s Vera Tzoneva, who heads up strategic partnerships for Google Now and App Indexing, Google’s own mobile deep linking effort.
Each company is tackling a different piece of the puzzle, filling in the gaps of what they all agreed is a mobile Web and user experience that’s not nearly good enough.
URX is focused on simplifying the deep linking process for developers with its App Search API. CEO John Milinovich likened URX’s aspirations to a Google AdWords of sorts for apps, getting deep linking to the point where an app linked inside another within the UX isn’t perceived as an ad, but as a natural intra-app user flow.
Deeplink—which published a handy deep linking timeline for the occasion—is working to reroute mobile pathways from mismatched mobile Web pages to native app retargeting, flowing users from app to app to sustain engagement.
Then there’s Button, a startup founded by two former Venmo employees, which is laser-focused on using deep links to drive cross-app acquisition and retention for mobile commerce. Button’s demo took a user through an on-demand deep linked pathway. It started with making a dinner reservation on reservation app Resy, straight into hailing an Uber car and having each app send timed reminders to the user about the other’s task. Don’t have either app? The deep link would facilitate what’s called an “intended installation,” using software called ‘AttendedInstall’ to bypass a key deep linking problem: the user needs to have the app installed for the link to work. The intended install removes the friction of going through the app store by allowing the user to download the app they need and to continue with their action, all within the first app.
Button cofounder Chris Maddern put it this way: “Our lives are a chain of linked app experiences,” and deep links are a way to make sure the chain doesn’t break.
Finally there was Wildcard, a startup that believes deep linking is only part of the equation. The other half of it, they said, is cards: mobile-optimized displays that render natively inside apps.