Branch’s Deep Links Let You Preview Apps In Your Browser

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Branch, a startup focused on deep-linking technology, today released a new tool for developers called Deepviews that will help them deliver previews of their applications before they’re installed.

If someone doesn’t have a specific app installed, they’ll be sent to a landing page the developer makes that’s basically a preview of the application when they click a Branch link. Normally that link would send them somewhere within an app, but if it’s not installed it gives developers a way to show a sample slice of the app instead of just sending a user to the app store.

The new tools offer developers a set of templates that they can build attached to those deep links for smartphone users that don’t have an application installed. deepview-product-flowThat, in turn, means that people are much more likely to install the apps that they are previewing, Branch CEO Alex Austin said.

“If [these links] went to the App Store were super low, and I noticed a couple more savvy mobile companies had built these great mobile websites and had put branch links behind a call to action to download, and were seeing 20%-plus conversions,” Austin said. “So we said, ‘why don’t we make this easier for any developer, for any cash-strapped startup with three people trying to figure out how to get to their next round — why can’t they have the same capability, we can build it for them.”

Normally, Branch links send smartphone users directly to the App Store if the app isn’t installed. Once users install that app, they’re then sent to the link destination. But most apps don’t have a mobile web version, and the ones that do tend to perform better, Austin said. Install ads and calls to action typically have a conversion rate of less than 10% when they go straight to the App Store, but that can grow dramatically if they can see a preview of some sort, he said.

All this comes at a time when deep-linking is increasingly relevant among app developers, which are finding users coming in from multiple different avenues and sharing information in a variety of ways — whether that’s text messages, Facebook posts, or a number of other ways. A company like Flipboard, for example, could further drive installs by pushing popular articles to their Facebook page, and then further improve those conversion rates by offering previews of those stories, Austin said.

Branch isn’t the only company that is working on deep linking technology. There are companies like Appsfire and Adjust, which help marketers track where app installs are coming from and use similar deep-linking technology. Of course, there’s data on all that activity available to Branch developers, but Austin’s argument is that Branch “focused on the deep linking.”

“We will tell the developer in real time where that user came from,” he said. “Within of a fraction of a second of you opening we’ve told that developer you’ve come from, and they’ll route you to the right page. Those companies don’t do that real time attribution, they don’t power that deep-linking.”

In February this year, the company raised $15 million, and has raised around $18 million total. The company acquired ClassOwl, an education startup, as one of its first acquisitions earlier this week.