Adding to Our Core Values

URX's team has doubled in the last year, and it's been exciting to see our core values grow and evolve with each new member of our team. As a company, we have always been dedicated to creating and codifying values that are consistent across URX, and we put these values at the front and center of everything we do. With our growth, we’ve added new guiding principles that reflect our company’s values:

Ask Hard Questions  - We believe that it’s important to ask the questions that are hard in all dimensions.  This means challenging ourselves to solve not only hard technical problems but also social and ethical ones.  We welcome and encourage open conversation, and constantly seek new ways to challenge our own assumptions.

Think Holistically - URX thinks holistically about all of the things we create.  We believe it's important to know that nothing we do exists in a vacuum, and that every action we take has consequences beyond our short term goals.  We apply this thinking not only to our products, our users, and our customers, but also to our place in the community outside our front door.

Our other values are:

[We]RX - URX is a community of peers. Titles are formalities: all URXers are treated with equal responsibility and accountability.

Startup Hard - Doing things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do unless you worked at a very early stage company; often involves unusual feats.

Lifelong Learners and Educators - URX is a culture of learning. We are greater than the sum of our parts because we share a common love of knowledge and the motivation to build something significant.

Leave your Ego at the Door - Detach ego from the product of your work and let data make decisions. Don’t be afraid to fail fast and start over.


URX is hiring! If you’re interested in joining our team, view our job openings to learn more.


DeeplinkSF Explores The Brave New World Of Inter-Connected Apps

Today’s fastest-growing companies are expanding their footprint in the mobile economy by embedding their services into other apps: Take Uber’s “Book a Ride” button in Google Maps, OpenTable’s “Make a Reservation” button in Yelp, or Instacart’s “Buy Ingredients” button in Yummly.

Leading consumer apps aren't just building individual destinations for users -- they're building apps as services and empowering third-party developers to integrate those services through API affiliate programs and deep links.

What emerges is a vastly more connected app market, where users “flow seamlessly from need to need, serviced in each state by a particular application without having to pull back, choose a new app, and then dive back in,” says John Battelle, an author and founder of Federated Media.

Next month, Battelle will join a bevy of app builders and digital executives at DeeplinkSF, an invite-only event in San Francisco hosted by URX.

Sessions will explore unanswered questions about the future of inter-connected apps. Will a single interface emerge where we consume all our apps? Will we need to download an app to utilize its services? How will the economics of app partnerships evolve?

The event features a panel discussion on the future of mobile discovery, with John Battelle, Rich Miner, the co-founder of Android, and Aparna Chennapragada, the Director of Product at Google Now.

Rich Wong of Accel Partners will moderate a panel discussion themed around scaling via app partnerships with growth leads from Uber, Yelp, Yummly and Spotify.

In addition, the event will feature live demos from Branch Metrics, URX and Workflow.

Among the topics we plan to explore:

  • Leveraging APIs to elegantly integrate mobile services into a common interface
  • The economics behind today’s app partnerships
  • Cross-app conversion tracking
  • …and much more

Join attendees from Pinterest, Nike, Apple, Hotel Tonight, Lyft, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, OpenTable and more.

Request an invite on the conference page at deeplinksf.com.

The URX Debrief - March 19

Mobile has a fragmentation problem

John Milinovich of URX discusses the potential of deep linking and what it could mean for Google and the rest of the local technology industry. —Street Fight

Bitly announces deep link platform for marketers.

Marketers provide their link locations to Bitly and it handles the link re-direction, sending users to either the in-app location, app store, or desktop page.—Bitly Blog

An open Google Now is about to make Android super smart

At SXSW, Google announced that Google Now will eventually open its API to all app developers. Google Now could become the Android dashboard that replaces your first wall of apps by creating a timely, streamlined digest of the information and services contained within them.—Wired

Ushering in the “Age of Context” in Mobile

In the evolution from the current Era of Mobile to the future Age of Context, thesupercomputers in our pocket evolve from information delivery and application interaction layers, to notification context-aware action drivers. —Wired Insights

Connecting wearable devices to the Physical Web

URX lead engineer Jeremy Lucas spoke at Wearables TechCon last week. Find out what UriBeacon and the Physical Web have to do with deep links on our blog.—URX Blog

Connecting Wearable Devices to the Physical Web

Last week at Wearables Tech Con, URX lead engineer Jeremy Lucas spoke on “Connecting Our Devices to the Physical Web”. 

 

The Physical Web is an effort initiated by developers at Google to extend the superpower of the web so that you would be able to walk up to any “smart” physical object (e.g. a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car) and interact with it. Smart objects would be enabled to broadcast a specific URI that users can detect with their device (phone, tablet, wearable, etc.)

Google developers define an open standard, called UriBeacon, which is a wireless advertisement format for broadcasting URIs to any nearby smart device over Bluetooth.

An interesting use for the UriBeacon is to broadcast semantic information so that it can be accessed from any device. Semantic information on the pages of a website can be associated with UriBeacon links for mobile apps and deep links. A restaurant, for example, could broadcast a Bluetooth packet that lets people swipe to view their hours, check out reviews, or book a reservation.

To demo this, Jeremy spoofed a UriBeacon for the restaurant The Front Porch from his laptop. When his Moto 360 detected the beacon, it showed a screen where Jeremy could swipe between options for taking action, like reading reviews for the restaurant and making a reservation.

 

Jeremy also built an app for the Moto 360 that opens an app deep link from a voice command, via a query to the URX API. Watch a demo video of that app here.

Mobile Has a Fragmentation Problem — Here’s the Technology That Could Fix It

This interview originally appeared in Street Fight

More than a decade ago, Google‘s search engine solved one of the most frustrating characteristics of the web: its fragmentation. Now, the mobile industry faces an even more striking crisis as mobile users spend more and more time in often hermetically sealed applications.

The problem has shaped the trajectory of the industry. A deluge of vertical-specific applications now aim to not only help you find and discover content but also evaluate and buy goods and services. And without a central search engine to route traffic, application developers are spending billions of dollars to acquire new customers spawning a multi-billion dollar app download industry that now accounts for a large swatch of the revenues of Facebook, Twitter and others.

Steven Jacobs, deputy editor of Street Fight caught up with URX's John Milinovich to talk about the potential of deep linking and what it could mean for Google and the rest of the local technology industry.

SJ: Tell me a little bit about the threat which the fragmentation within the mobile ecosystem poses to some of the larger Internet companies today?
JM: When you look at the biggest difference between desktop and mobile usage, the biggest thing is that you do not have to install a website to view its content. For Google, its biggest existential threat has always been vertical search. You go to Amazon to find that pair of red shoes instead of going to google to end up on Amazon. All of these vertical search engines — Yelp included — are often times much better at fulfilling that user intent but those are also the highest value queries for Google.

Fast forward today, the fact that you have install and app and then go into the app to figure out what’s inside it means this is an inherently distributed or vertical search-world that we live in. You’re not going to Google to search for content in apps. The big challenge for Google, whose dominance relies on being that central place where people go to find information, is figuring out what to do with mobile traffic

Is deep linking simply meant to replicate the structure of the web? Is this a correcting of a problem in the mobile environment?
That’s part of it. But I think deep linking goes deeper than just replicating the web. There’s so many things that mobile devices, and applications, can do that the web just can not. There’s so many more signals that are at a developers disposable when they’re building an app and so many things that are sensitive to a user’s context that an app can do that a website could never complete. A lot of the opportunity is to utilize and exploit the things that make mobile unique as a form factor to make these user experiences better.

I think location is the most important thing that mobile is sensitive to that the desktop and the traditional web world is not. There’s such as sensitivity between me and my device, and my device and my location. The ability to take that location as a signal and understand what context actually means as another layer of understanding of what i’m actually looking for was not possible before.

In the past few years, we’ve seen a handful of vertical-specific mobile applications build experience that pair discovery with fulfillment. Do you see that as something endemic to mobile or a momentary response to a broken mobile ecosystem?
The reason people yell from mountain tops about the need to build companies around different parts of the purchase funnel is a reaction to the fact that it’s a broken experience and still nascent space. If you’re able to understand that a user is in search-mode based on the types of content they are viewing or the words on the page, you can imagine how you can connect the top of funnel research mode to down the funnel fulfillment. There’s all of these interesting signals that exist just implicitly based on the apps which are installed on your phone.

If you can begin to surface not only the apps themselves, but what’s inside those apps, to what a user is doing at any point in time — that’s a huge opportunity. That way you can compress the funnel in a way that people have been trying to do for your but it has not been possible especially on mobile.

URX and Google both index information, but URX does not expose that information to the consumer through search. Talk a bit about the strategy here.
The opportunity for us is to become that connective fabric to connect apps together. That means both the organic ability to link app A to app B, but also the organic ability for app A to pay app B for conversion. The apps that succeed today are the ones that can do one very specific thing. You cannot do more than one thing if you expect to grow hundreds of millions of users. But there’s all of these adjacent actions, that because of the paradigm that apps are built today they cannot be housed in the same experience.

Imagine deep linking succeeds. Is there something unique about mobile where a single company, say Google, would not have dominance search on mobile to the same extent as the web?
That question is in much more in the hands of the operating systems than in the hands of developers. As a user, I would never open one app in order to search for things inside another app unless that thing was ten times better than Google. In my opinion, to build a ten times better search engine than google is a losing prospect when it comes to consumer facing search.

It’s something that’s much more up to Apple, in terms of what they are going to do with spotlight search, or to android, as Google continues to push forward on app indexing. But until then, as a user i will still have 45 apps on my device and i’ll still go directly to them to find something in order to do what i want to do.

Let’s talk about Google for a moment.
One of things that Google has focused on is how do they take their money maker, AdWords, and allow that to utilize deep linking. That’s a huge opportunity for Google, but it’s also something that will be a multi-year endeavor. They need to make sure it’s ready to roll out internationally, adopted by their sales team, et cetera.

There’s a lot of things that Google is doing to take its current properties — mainly, Google Now and Google Search – and drive user back into apps. But these days, they’re much more focused on how to make it work on their own properties before figuring out how to make it work for third-party developers as well.

Deepscape 3.0

We took a fresh look at the industry landscape (or “Deepscape”) focusing on companies using deep links to create new, innovative mobile experiences.

We structured this version with the goal of clarifying deep linking developments in five specific areas:

  1. Developer Tools - adding deep links to apps and exposing them publicly
  2. App Partnership Tools - helping companies connect their apps with deep links and create monetization and acquisition opportunities
  3. Marketer Tools - using deep links for user acquisition, re-engagement and app monetization
  4. Mobile Apps with APIs - companies that have built their own APIs for direct integrations
  5. Consumer Search companies building new consumer search and discovery experiences

Details on companies are below. We would love your feedback!

Developer Tools

Open Source Frameworks

Frameworks that will help you set up deep links in your iOS and Android apps.

HTML Markup for Deep Links

HTML web code that allows you to more fully leverage deep links and make your app content discoverable.

App Partnership Tools

  • URX - works with apps to build partnerships at scale with an API for linking into the most relevant app based on context of the user and relevance
  • Button - connects specific apps together with loyalty and commerce
  • Facebook App Links - static deep links into other App Link partners
  • Direct partnerships - apps that have built APIs for direct integrations (e.g. Spotify, Uber, OpenTable, etc.)

Marketer Tools

Metric and engagement tools that help marketers leverage deep links in their social, email, organic and paid campaigns.

Consumer Search

  • Apple Spotlight - search for content on iOS devices
  • Bing - search that layers on rewards and user experiences
  • Google now - search that lets you preview app content before downloading
  • Quixey - find new apps and search existing apps on your device
  • Relcy - “page-rank” style mobile app search
  • Vurb - new consumer search app
  • Wildcard - preview app content before downloading

Happy deep linking!


The URX Debrief - March 9

Deepscape 3.0 - A new look at the industry lanscape

We took a fresh look at the industry landscape of companies using deep links to create new, innovative mobile experiences. We structured the newest version of the "Deepscape" with the goal of clarifying deep linking developments in these areas: developer tools, marketer tools, app partnership tools, mobile apps with APIs, and consumer search. —URX Blog

Branch Metrics raises $15M to scale deep linking technology

Branch Metrics links bring users to deep-linked content after the install. The shortened links can also be fully tracked, allowing customers to measure clicks, installs and other down-funnel actions, including organic growth referral programs, invite link clicks, sharing features, and more. —TechCrunch

Vurb launches app to reinvent search on mobile

Our solution revolves around the idea of the Vurb Card. It’s a portable, interchangeable, and intelligent medium that connects you to information and relevant apps and services. By bringing together Cards across multiple categories (e.g., places, movies, music), we’re helping you get things done – all from a single place.—Vurb Blog

Quixey raises $60M for mobile app search

Quixey confirmed that it raised $60 million in a strategic Series C1 funding round led by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba. Quixey develops technology to connect people with new applications and helps them discover the content within mobile apps.—TechCrunch

Google will boost relevant app content in mobile search results

Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in rankingfor signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. —Google Blog

What is the natural exit points for apps?

Once we accept that our users will eventually leave the app anyway, and there may be upside in helping them through this process (both monetary and otherwise), the next question that would occur to a logical developer is “where should I put these outbound links?” Specifically, what’s the natural exit point for an app—Wired Insights

Travel companies are building smarter app integrations with deep links

Although travel transactions are as simple as few taps, getting consumers actually into an app to book remains companies greatest challenge. Deep linking solves that by creating efficient channels from demand to purchase through industry partnerships. —Skift

 

The Future of App Partnerships

Great app partnerships create great user experiences as well as new business opportunities for mobile developers.  We’ve designed our API to allow developers to natively integrate connections to other apps into their own app.

Visit our new URX Labs page to see some of our ideas on how context can be used to suggest relevant and useful actions to users.  Two of our awesome partners, Fitocracy and Happinin, are live today with great examples that bring new meaning to the term “native”.

Search Widget

Fitocracy added a button in their workout app that opens a music search page where users can search for songs, artists, or playlists and are then taken directly into the music app to listen.

Action Sheet

Happinin added a music button that appears for each band that is highlighted in their app.  On click the user is able to choose in what app they want to listen and the URX API is used to link them there.

Check out our Labs page for more inspiration including ideas using push notifications, multiple actions on a page, and creating cards from results.

The Deeplink Debrief - February 25

Deep link adoption grows — ESPN, Foursquare, and Huffington Post add deep link tags

About 6 months ago, we found that only 22% of the top 200 apps have added deep link tags to their websites. Today, that percentage has increased to 28% among the same set of apps. Companies that recently enabled deep linking range from media moguls like ESPN’s SportsCenter and the Huffington Post to local discovery apps like Foursquare and Hotels.com. —URX Blog

How marketers should talk to developers about deep linking

The most mobile-forward marketers are already intelligently using deep links to drive activity back to their apps. The difference between leading marketers and those catching up is that the leading mobile marketers know how to ask developers the right questions about deep links. —Bitly Blog

Search starts afresh on mobile

For the modern smartphone-based world, doing web searches begins to feel as antiquated as looking at the Site of the Day. Instead, what’s coming is a raft of smart apps that are able to harness our social graph — whether in business or personal — and give us search results that are properly tailored to what we need to know right when we want to. —TechCrunch

Kahuna creates personalized app notification links with dynamic deep linking

Kahuna is taking deep linking one step further by enabling links for apps that dynamically use the personal history of the person clicking the link. For instance, a customer who has a good history with her American Express card might receive a push notification about Hilton Hotels with a link to the Preferred Guest page in her travel app, rather than the generic Hilton Hotels screen. —Venture Beat

URX analyzed data from our Deep Link Search API to take a look at who "won" the Grammys

We’ve been working with a variety of mobile web publishers and app developers to help their users link into relevant music apps like Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and a host of others. From publisher queries to our API, we can see which artists people are reading about or looking for throughout the country and gauge increases and decreases in artist popularity. —URX Blog

Deep Link Adoption Growing – ESPN, Foursquare, and Huffington Post Among Those to Add Tags

Smart mobile companies like Yelp, OpenTable, Spotify, Airbnb, and Instacart are finding intelligent ways to re-engage their app users with deep links. They are driving users to specific places inside their app through mobile search, advertising, Google Now, and direct partnerships between apps.

About 6 months ago, we found that only 22% of the top 200 apps have added deep link tags to their websites. Today, that percentage has increased to 28% among the same set of apps. Companies that recently enabled deep links range from media moguls like ESPN’s SportsCenter and the Huffington Post to local discovery apps like Foursquare and Hotels.com.

In addition, some apps who already have deep links added tags for more platforms: OfferUp and StubHub added ones for Android while ABC News and Yelp added iPad support.

Google, Instagram (Facebook), and Twitter, who each have proposed a standard for deep link tags, finally adopted their own proposals on their respective websites. However, Facebook and LinkedIn have yet to add tags, causing many users to be redirected to the mobile browser instead of the app when clicking on their mobile links from email or social media.

The verticals with the highest adoption of tags are Entertainment (54% have tags) and Music (50%), with the biggest increases over the past 6  months in Social (29% vs. 6%) and News (44% vs. 33%).

As we spend an increasing amount of time on mobile devices, we’re thrilled to see the continued adoption of deep linking to bring relevant users directly to the point of action.

Enabling mobile deep links requires a straightforward, one-time codebase addition, which involves registering a scheme to open the app and mapping routes to in-app pages or actions.

Most importantly, exposing deep link structures to the web using the proper tags not only allows for cross-app partnerships but also improves mobile SEO for Google and URX.

Feel free to get in touch with us at support@urx.com with any questions!