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Urban Airship Soars to New Heights

With over half a million apps in both Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Play Store (previously the Android Market) and Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) App Store, it’s important for developers to find ways to make their applications stand out.

And as I mentioned in November, Portland-based startup, Urban Airship, can help software companies keep users engaged, even when they’re bombarded with new apps daily.

Essentially, the company gives developers tools to integrate in-app purchases and push notifications into their apps.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, push notifications are messages that pop up on your smartphone or tablet and alert you to something new within the application. Like updated sports scores from ESPN or new daily deals through LivingSocial (both of which use Urban Airship’s software).

That way, users are more likely to stay tuned in to the application, eventually handing more revenue to the developer behind the app.

In November, I claimed that Urban Airship would become increasingly relevant as app makers struggle to stand out in the overly crowded space.

Sure enough, while the company pushed out seven billion notifications at the time – at the rate of one billion per month – by January, total notifications hit 10 billion. And now, it’s up to 17 billion, indicating that the growth rate is increasing.

This is just the beginning, however, as recently added features to Urban Airship’s software toolkit should only catapult growth higher in the coming months…

Pinpointing the Perfect Customer

In short, Urban Airship is beginning to leverage new software that it acquired through its purchase of SimpleGeo last year. And it unveiled a product that “combines its push notification platform with the ability to segment audiences by location, time, context and preferences in an effort to improve relevancy and targeting of both messages and offers,” according to TechCrunch’s Rip Empson.

Here’s what that means for Urban Airship’s partners…

For one, companies and developers can now send alerts to users who are located in a specific area. As an example, Empson offers the scenario of a national retailer trying to sell excess inventory at a particular store location. With these new features, the company can simply send out a coupon to certain zip codes. That way, users in a different state won’t be bogged down with useless messages.

Companies can drill down even further, too, delivering notifications based on user preferences and activities. So a retailer might choose to send out a message regarding a special event to consumers who regularly visit certain locations or who’ve shown interest in the past.

Better yet, the company has also partnered with Meridian, which allows Urban Airship to tap into indoor location data as well. Which enables partnering companies to send customers relevant deals and coupons for products that are literally right next to them.

In other words, companies can target the customers that are most likely to take action, while not bothering other users who have zero interest in a product, event, new game, etc. Ultimately, this helps build revenue while ensuring that customers don’t uninstall an application out of sheer annoyance.

All these ad-targeting methods might sound like a breach of privacy. But it’s not like companies are spying on your every move without your knowledge. Users have to opt-in to Urban Airship to tap into any of this data.

Bottom line: Urban Airship’s growth might have been on a steady upward trajectory before. But now that the company’s toolkit proves even more useful – and the amount of consumers with mobile devices continues to grow astronomically – expect adoption of its services to ramp up even faster in 2012 and beyond.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

View More By Justin Fritz