Web push notifications and acceptance rate

Web push notifications and acceptance rate

Have websites been misusing push notifications? Website owners started to abuse push notifications with user complaints as a result. The idea was great, but now Google itself is stopping it.

Do note that the push notification functionality itself isn't abandonned, but beside notifications about shipment of the webshop products you just ordered, it is also being used for other purposes. And sometimes, websites are enforcing you to accept push notifications before even being able to visit the website or view the contents.

Unfortunately, notifications are also a common complaint as many websites request the notification permission on first visit rather than at contextually relevant moments

Chromium blog

This led to complaints, despite the fact that users could choose to Accept, Dismiss, Deny or Ignore push notifications. So, Google and other SEO websites announced quieter permission UI for notifications.

How surpressing of push notifications work

To reduce the interruptiveness of notification permission requests, Chrome will introduce a quieter notification permission UI as of Chrome 80 (release date was February 4, 2020). Users who typically deny notification requests will no longer see interruptive notifications. Users will have to opt-in to the new UI manually in their browser settings (Settings > Site Settings > Notifications).

Annoying websites are affected by default

Google is already tracking data and user experience via Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). User behaviour is tracked as well, for example when users are choosing one of the following push notification permission options:

  • Accept;
  • Dismiss;
  • Deny;
  • Ignore.

FireFox will block web push notifications as well

It's not only Google Chrome that is blocking push notifications. On the very same day that this got published on the Chromium blog, the Mozilla blog is announcing the same.

About 99% of notification prompts go unaccepted [..] so you can keep cruising the web without interruptions

Mozilla blog

Now we only have to get rid of annoying cookie-walls 😉

Web push notification acceptance and rates

According to Mozilla, 48% of push notification requests are actively denied by the user. In total, 99% of notification prompts go unaccepted, apparently. No figures from Chromium unfortunately.

Push notification data of 30,000 websites

An interesting article by Rick Viscomi, a Google Engineer and working Chrome UX report projects, explored the CrUX data. Outcomes:

  • Slack's app environment has a very good acceptance rate, being 92.10%. This might be because Slack will only show them after a user enabled this to be an option, making the acceptance rate higher in the first place;
  • The average acceptance rate of all 30,000 websites is 16.71%, being way lower than Slack's percentage;
  • Looking at desktop only, the acceptance rate is even lower: 6.11%;
  • This means the push notification acceptance rate on mobile should be higher. It is, being 22.76%.

Maybe having push notifications feels way more logical on mobile devices. Another interesting statistic is that there is a 48.27% ignore-rate on desktop. On mobile, this is just 1.88%. Everybody seems to act on push notifications, but Rick has a clear explanation:

The simplest explanation is screen size; it's a lot harder to ignore a prompt when it's taking up a larger portion of your screen

Rick Viscomi

Real website example

* This para­graph is an April update

After writing this article I stumbled upon this Business of Apps article, covering the web push notification open rate as well. And I got a push notification myself.

This seemed like the perfect testcase, so I looked up the real user behaviour for free for their push notification. They have desktop-only data unfortunately, but here it is:

February data explained:

  • 2,47% accepted notifications;
  • 39,63 dismissed it;
  • 13,96% denied it;
  • 44,21% ignored it (as, on a large screen, a popup is easy to consciously ignore if you're just there to read an article and then leave again).

Web push notification of March isn't that different:

  • 3,55% accepted notifications;
  • 40,42% dismissed it;
  • 13,19% denied it;
  • 42,84% ignored it.

On the other hand, the mobile only data of web push notification behaviour on housing.com is very good:

  • 65,64% accepted notifications;
  • 7,54% dismissed it;
  • 26,82% denied it;
  • nobody ignored it.

I could not find any notifications though, so chances are this website is prompting push notifications in the correct user context, leading to higher acceptance rate.