Here at OMA, we have a running joke to never look at Ben, our Creative Director’s iPhone screen. He seems to have the rare talent of not being ruled by “The Red Dot.” What do I mean by The Red Dot? Some of you might be familiar with my disdain for the overuse of the color red in the digital space, but I will reiterate: the color red works as an alert because it stands out and demands our attention. Red means blood, poisonous berries, danger! Alert! So, it makes sense to use the color red to indicate an actionable item in an app.
What I find fascinating about Ben’s total lack of shits towards notifications is he seems to have hit a tipping point where notifications became so frequent that they are background noise to him. Personally, The Red Dot still has a great deal of sway over me, but I have meticulously curated my push notifications. When I receive a notification, I typically give it my full attention. Otherwise, that Red Dot is like a kernel in my teeth. I have to clear it or, if feels like a false sense of urgency, I will turn off push notifications from that particular app in settings.
My point? I see this as an excellent opportunity for mobile OS developers to make push notifications smarter. The mobile device can “learn” how a user treats their push notifications. Which apps does the user use the most? What are the notifications she responds to? Which notifications does she ignore? Are some badges missed because the app isn’t on the home screen? How can we bring attention to the notifications that aren’t front and center?
By tracking how the user responds or doesn’t respond to push notifications, we have the opportunity to smartly turn off the notifications the user ignores without her going through the hassle of turning them off in settings. This way notifications will become more and more relevant, and the user will be less likely to tune them out like our good friend Ben.
By doing so, not only are we are curating a more successful experience, this would make push notifications more successful overall. There is so much potential in smart push notifications in advertising, especially tapping into proximity engagement. So consider this my challenge to you, mobile OS developers: let’s bring back the power of The Red Dot.