Product Engineering // Blog

Who are the Major Players in Deep Linking?

Part 2 of a 2  part-series on Deep Linking. Read part 1 here.
Perspective by Applico, the World’s First Platform Innovation Company, CTO Matt Powers

While there are a couple of key players in the market, their marketing and positioning subtly vary, as well as the technology behind it.

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  • Website https://branch.io/
  • Founded 2014
  • Focus 360-degree view of app installation and passing data through installs
  • Fundraising 18 M for its smarter mobile deep linking technology
  • Case Studies The League, Vango, Gogobot
  • Product Overview Branch Metrics is unique in the sense that it totally closing the referral to installation loop for application installs, having the only 360-degree perspective on the market.
  • Dashboard The dashboard facilitates tracking of installs and click flow across Desktop, Android, iOS and SMS. They have a separate marketing and referral section of the dashboard to monitor campaigns and other marketing initiatives. Finally the Dashboard allows the users to take their data with them and export into CSV format.
  • API/SDK Branch currently has a Web API as well as solid, with highly customizable iOS and Android SDKs, and its open source. The SDKs and APIs allow the user to segment and customize any metadata they want and associate it with a user generated link, this makes for a highly customizable solution that is one of branches advantages. They do not offer stable SDKs for Windows Phone, personalized installs, PhoneGap, Titanium or Xamarin that are even close to up part with iOS and Android thus having a hole in their tech stack.
  • Marketplace Branch does not offer a marketplace(right now), they are solely focused on deep linking to your app, not driving traffic to your app from other apps and vice versa.
  • Pros Highlight customizable SDK which allows for passing contextual data through installs, closing a referral link. Nicely supported Android and iOS SDK with generally good documentation. Support for deep linking to uninstalled as well as installed apps. They are really focusing in on targeting the users doing the sharing and closing the installation loop.
  • Cons Branch focuses on both closing the installation loop and organic discovery, not necessarily discoverability from other apps. More client case studies would help foster adoption of the platform and promote its various use cases.

 

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  • Website: http://deeplink.me/
  • Founded 2013
  • Focus Re-engagement, retention and marketplaces
  • Fundraising Raised 1.3M in 2013 to launch the initial version of the product
  • Case Studies Shazaam, JackThreads, OpenTable
  • Product Overview Deeplink.me’s platform empowers developers to build smart links that that support advanced analytics and facilitate discoverability. Deeplink.me has one differentiating feature that Button and Branch do not, and that is an explicit marketplace for people to advertise their deep links. They additionally have just launched an sdk to monetize and ease the burden of discoverability around deeplinks called “AppWords”
  • Dashboard The Dashboard that is setup is very similar to Branch in that users can track click rates, cross platform, as well as rule based analytics. The single biggest omission though is that it doesn’t track installs from SMS or Email and segment that out specifically like Branch does.
  • API/SDK There is no SDK or API. You simply register the app, tell it what deep links it uses and prefix all the URLs with Deeplink.me. The lack of SDK or API seems to make the ability to use the platform and customize it quite limited (although this appears to be changing with the recently released “AppWords”)
  • Marketplace The marketplace is in private beta right now, but it’s easy to see from a marketing standpoint that this is going to be Deeplink.me’s market differentiator.
  • Pros They have a marketplace technology and product is a differentiator in the market. They have the second best search term results on Google for the term “deep link SDK” (probably due to their name). The platform requires little to no setup from a development standpoint.
  • Cons While the platform consists of little to no setup from a development standpoint, that is a blessing and a curse. There is no ability to customize that data that is being shared with DeepLink.me and no export feature on their dashboard leaving users of the platform subject to vendor lock-in.

 

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  • Website http://www.usebutton.com/
  • Founded 2014
  • Focus Marketplaces and easing the burden of deep link creation for the developer
  • Fundraising Recently raised 12M series A
  • Case Studies Uber, Hello Vino, Glamsquad
  • Product Overview Button’s product seems to take a different approach where they make creating deep links into your app easier, creating an SDK that allows you to stand up deep links in your apps with only a few lines of code.
  • Dashboard Publicly unavailable with really no information on any of the analytics features.
  • API/SDK The API and SDK are extremely limited, currently only offering an iOS SDK and limited REST API focused around loyalty. There are three flavors of the SDK (all for iOS). There is tight integration into Uber, allowing the SDK to request a ride in only a couple of lines of code. There is a deep link SDK that allows you to easily add and generate deep links for the app. And finally there is DeepLink Commerce which is in a coming soon state.
  • Marketplace None. They have a partner program with Uber, GLAMSQUAD and some others but the marketplace or partner program as they are calling it is extremely limited.
  • Pros Buttons SEO is through the roof, searching on deep linking through Google yields them as a number 1 search result. Their GitHub iOS SDK has 894 stars and 35 people watching, meaning that adoption and potentially innovation will increase based on the needs of the market
  • Cons The technology components, publicly, are very much under wraps. With most mobile and digital experiences on mobile being cross platform, not having an Android SDK or more robust REST API is worrisome. Additionally their focus doesn’t appear to be closing that install loop like Branch is, or at least they aren’t offering the customizability, yet. Additionally, creating deep links in your apps today isn’t hard; I am not sure why/how this SDK makes it any easier. Finally there is no analytics component to their platform although it’s hard to imagine that is something that is not in the works.

 

Who do we use and why?
Branch.IO is currently is the leader in the space from a technology standpoint and have the most comprehensive product offering to date. They are the only truly cross platform solution out on the market and have a vast inventory on their GitHub page.  From an integration standpoint the system is flexible enough to allow the developer to highly customize the data they want to collect while being dumb enough to do a lot with only a few lines of code. From a business standpoint they are hyper focused on solidifying a 360 degree view of installation analytics making it a market differentiator in our opinion.

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