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URX Looks to Make Its Deep Links Pay Off With New Ad Type

AppViews offer a way for mobile developers to link to a specific action within another app.

Asa Mathat

After spending the last couple of years trying to make sense of the way mobile apps are organized, search startup URX hopes to finally start profiting from that knowledge.

 The new AppView unit from URX lets a mobile Web site or app link directly to a spot with in an app, shown here with a promoted AppView from SeatGeek.
The new AppView unit from URX lets a mobile Web site or app link directly to a spot with in an app, shown here with a promoted AppView from SeatGeek.

The San Francisco-based company on Wednesday plans to announce a new type of link, known as an AppView, that connects to a specific action within another app. AppViews can be either paid ads or a means for a company to tie together its own apps or those of partners. Among the first companies signing up for sponsored AppViews are Spotify, Lyft and SeatGeek, which are paying to have connections to their apps included.

AppViews offer up what are known as “deep links,” meaning they connect to a specific spot within an app rather than just opening up the app itself. The shift toward deep linking — a move being pushed by startups like Quixey and URX as well as established players Twitter, Facebook and Google — is a profound one that promises to free information that has been essentially trapped within each app.

AppViews can be embedded into a mobile website, iOS or Android app and can link to either an Android or iOS app.

“Part of what we want to do is reconnect apps back into the Web instead of having this disjointed world,” CEO John Milinovich told Re/code.

While such connections among apps are starting to be made, often they are still done through one-to-one negotiations or via one company’s own approach rather than through a broader standard. URX’s announcement of AppViews comes ahead of Deeplinksf, a significant gathering of companies in the space being held Wednesday evening in San Francisco.

Milinovich said there is no cost to companies that want to use AppViews to connect their own apps, while URX will take a cut of the revenue earned from sponsored links with one of its partners.

Clearly the financial incentive for URX, though, is on the paid side of things. Most mobile advertising today, Milinovich said, is based on a users’ demographics rather than what they are doing at any given moment. That, he says, is a waste of all the contextual data a phone has on the person using it.

“There is a whole era of mobile coming that is all about context,” he said. “That’s what we want to be the ushers of.”

URX, though, remains tiny, although its 27 workers recently moved into slightly larger digs in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood. It faces a host of competitors, including companies far larger than it. Reminders of that are literally all around the company. Its new building — next door to its prior offices — is where Twitter got its start.

“It’s definitely humbling to say the least,” Milinovich said.

For more on deep linking and its importance, here’s a video from last year’s Code/Mobile conference, where Milinovich appeared alongside Quixey CEO Tomer Kagan:

This article originally appeared on

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