New Urban Airship Study Finds In-App Message Centers Generate Eight Times More Direct Response Than Push Notifications

Solution enhancements also unveiled today will dramatically reduce the time to implement message centers from weeks to hours

PORTLAND, Ore., – February 18, 2016 – Urban Airship, the world’s leading mobile engagement platform provider, today released key findings from the industry’s first study of in-app message centers, which are dedicated messaging destinations within apps. Analysis included more than one billion message center messages delivered over two months, and compared direct interactions with message center messages versus push notifications. Benchmarks for high, medium and low message center read rates were calculated using the performance of apps in the 90th, 50th and 10th percentiles. Complete results and best practices are available for download.

For iOS apps, key findings include:

  • Eight times greater message center read rates than direct taps on a notification for medium-performers (the 50th percentile).
  • Message center read rates more than double when used in combination with a push notification, and increase 23% when used with a home screen badge.
  • High-performing apps see average message center read rates of 44%, increasing to 49% for retail apps, meaning nearly half of all messages sent are opened and read.

Unlike push notifications that only reach opt-in users, message centers reach all users and offer marketers a designated content marketing channel within apps where messages persist. High-performing apps see opt-in users reading 52% of all message center messages, while opt-out users read 25% of all messages. These messages can be highly targeted, and can include rich content like photos and videos, forms and surveys, and mobile wallet passes and social feeds. As a result, message centers support a wider variety of experiences and use cases than other more temporal forms of in-app messaging or push notifications — from promotional and editorial content, to lifecycle campaigns and transactional order and shipment confirmations that recipients may want to refer to repeatedly.  

In comparing iOS versus Android message center performance, the study found:

  • Medium-performing iOS message centers achieve nearly three times greater read rates than the average Android message center.
  • Android apps are much earlier in efforts to adopt message centers (14% of the sample) and lack support for home screen badging.
  • Medium-performing Android apps see the same message center read rates as direct taps on a notification — 6%.

In combination with this study, Urban Airship is introducing a number of enhancements to its mobile app engagement solution, Urban Airship Engage: 

  • A new, out-of-the-box message center reduces the amount of time needed to integrate this capability within apps from four to six weeks, to four to six hours – an estimated savings of more than $30,000 for app development resources.
  • A/B testing is now expanded to A/B/n testing, enabling growth marketers to easily set up control groups, define audience percentages for message variants and test more than 20 versions of a notification or in-app message including message and button text, link text, emojis and more.
  • An enhanced composer interface seamlessly integrates all of these capabilities with powerful segmentation, automation and step-by-step workflows to enable marketers to easily use the broadest range of engagement channels to reach more app users with personalized experiences that get noticed and drive action.

“Performance data on more than one billion message center messages offers fantastic insight into the true power of this form of customer engagement, which quite simply dwarfs the effectiveness of any other channel available to marketers today,” said Brett Caine, CEO and president, Urban Airship. “Now, we’re making it simple and easy for any company with an app to deploy our powerful message center solution.”


Urban Airship’s out-of-the-box message center is available now. A/B/n testing and composer enhancements will be available this quarter.


Analysis included 83 apps that sent 1,149,156,265 message center messages between 11/13/15 to 1/13/16. Message center read rates were calculated as the total number of users that read the message, divided by the total number of users that received the message.

About Urban Airship

Urban Airship provides the world’s leading mobile engagement platform, helping thousands of businesses of all sizes form a direct and lasting connection with their customers. With Urban Airship, companies gain total control of their mobile footprint — apps, wallets and user-level data — to deliver experiences that get noticed and drive action across mobile or any other customer touchpoint. More than 30,000 apps and some of the most innovative global brands trust Urban Airship to accelerate their business through mobile marketing with an independent study calculating an average 878 percent return on investment for customers. For more information, visit, read our blog and follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.