Don't build it in-house
Not anymore - here’s why:
- Maturity: Existing solutions were quite clunky a few years ago, they since have matured and now provide much better integration process and reliability.
- TTM / Time To Market: Building it in-house = time before it’s ready. You want it now.
- Tracking: Setting up proper tracking / analytics on in-house built deep linking is just a nightmare. Really.
- Maintenance and changes: That’s the most important point. You’ll have to maintain the thing. Additionally, due to its platform and device dependencies, deep linking is really hard to monitor and requires (regular) manual testing. And then, it changes. You can’t imagine the mess it has been for some actors when iOS 9 changed everything / Apple universal links were introduced. Everything broke! So, you’ll also have to test regularly / over time, including when a new OS is launched.
- Fragmentation & multiple formats: There are (or there can be) different behaviors throughout Android vendors, OS versions, … You also have to tackle with multiple formats, for Facebook app links or Twitter cards, so that your contents with deep links get optimized for rich media display.
- Innovation: Some really cool innovations appeared, based on deep linking. The most notable one is deferred deep linking. It uses the same mechanics than tracking for ads, and allows instead to personalized onboarding or advanced referral programs (in-app). That’s not something you can build in-house (requires R&D).
Like many topics in tech, deep linking became complicated enough for dedicated solutions to be more and more relevant. Building it in-house and having it work properly in all cases requires a lot of work, maybe even dedicated resources. In fact, I estimate that to have a basic deep linking solution built in-house up & ready, it requires one third of the working time of an IT guy, maybe more depending the needs.
Then, as a publisher of apps, the wise question is: is it your core job to maintain a deep linking thing? Or should you rather work on your app and make it a great product?
Just as it’s not anymore relevant to host your own servers at home, route your emails yourself, implement push notifications in-house, … it is now most of the time not relevant anymore to build deep linking in-house.
It’s a topic that attribution / campaigns analytics actors have seized well. Tune, Adjust or AppsFlyers / OneLink all provide their solution.
But there are also pure deep linking specialists, that bring really cool innovations like personalized onboarding: Yozio, Hokolinks, and Branch
NB: I’m currently really found of Branch, I’ve recommended them to many contacts and clients and they provided great satisfaction (btw, they already fuel deep linking for major publishers in EU: Dubsmash, Dojo, CDiscount, QuizzUp, …).
But there is also a whole new subject, strongly tied to deep linking: App Indexing, which I covered quite early at SMX Paris 2015 with @Polo_Seo (see http://www.journaldunet.com/solutions/seo-referencement/app-indexing-au-smx-paris-2015.shtml in french), while it was only available to a few selected publishers for testing.
App Indexing = Search2App
And deep linking is a requirement to app indexing, because it’s how contents get accessed from within search results.
I formerly hilighted deep linking as your « Everything2App », now we can add Search2App:
To know everything about App Indexing, you can read my guest post on Branch.io's blog: https://blog.branch.io/the-past-present-and-future-of-app-indexing