buzzwordThe greatest benefit of mobile deep linking is the ability for marketers and app developers to bring users directly into the specific location within their app with a dedicated link. Just as deep links have made the web more usable, mobile deep links will do the same for mobile apps.

However, unlike the web, where the underlying technology of HTTP and URLs allow for deep linking by default, enabling deep linking on mobile apps requires these apps be configured to properly handle a uniform resource identifier (URI). Just like a URL is an address for a website, a URI is the address for an app on a mobile device.

The format of the URI - used to trigger or deep link an app -  is often different depending on the mobile operating system:  Android devices work through intents, BlackBerry10 devices works through BB10's invocation framework, Firefox OS device works through Web Activities, iOS devices work through the openUrl application method, and Windows Phone 8 devices work through the UriMapper class. Hence, the seemingly simple things are often more difficult than thought. Not to mention the struggle with certain web technologies, such as Adobe Flash, that often do not support deep linking.

As said, the purpose of mobile deep links is to guide the user into an app, and even here to a particular action or to a certain content.  But how does the user get from one app to another, and how does he get from the mobile browser into the app or from an email into the app?The two main applications for mobile deep linking are app-to-app and email/browser-to-app:

• During the app-to-app linking, a frequent source of error is that no global deep link schemes are implemented in the apps - only for selected use cases. In addition, there were no uniform standard protocols such as HTTP on the web, with which an app could call up the other. So, until recently, apps were like black boxes, closed systems, but that changes now with the introduction of so-called “App Indexing Standards” of Google, Bing and Facebook.

• The second use case is even more difficult: the linking into an app instead of out of an app, which is particularly error prone if the user has not installed the app. The reason is that he then needs to be linked otherwise, which means a custom URL scheme has to be accessed, analog to the URL of a website.

That’s why there are a few isolated applications on the market that work differently for Android and iOS:
• Android in general allows registering of websites for an app: When clicking the link, the user gets asked, if he wants to open the app or the browser.
• Apple didn’t support deep linking up to now, but that changed with the introduction of universal links in iOS9, which can teach an app, similar to Android, to open up when associated with a web page.

Particularly in the area of eCommerce, experts see an enormous potential for mobile deep linking - especially with regard to the linking of email-to-app - but also in campaigns by contextual linking via banner or in social channels through share-buttons. It is definitely interesting for many sectors and will especially revolutionize eCommerce by being effective in generating transactions, therefore expect it to be inevitable soon.

By Daniela La Marca