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Summary:

The platform could give publishers a new tool in their quest to monetize online content. Not only does it let mobile websites issue push notifications, but it also introduces new real estate for ads.

Brow.si

Publishers these days have a choice when it comes to mobile: design for the mobile browser, or go the app route. Apps tend to allow greater functionality, but it’s a lot more efficient to create a website that renders well on both the desktop and mobile – hence the so-called “responsive design” movement.

Now MySiteApp, the Israeli company that previously put out the UppSite tool for converting websites into native apps, has brought out a new service called Brow.si for making mobile websites behave like apps. Brow.si is a multifunctional toolbar that can be easily inserted in a responsive website through the addition of some Javascript. It’s now in public beta, following a two-week closed beta period in which it was already used by a million people.

Pushing for the web

Much of this functionality is the sort of thing a publisher can put into a mobile website itself – content sharing through social networks, read-later options such as Pocket, font resizing and so on – but Brow.si aims to make its addition easier.

It also introduces something that’s previously only been available on apps: push notifications. Without the user having to install anything, they can subscribe to notifications from all the websites they visit that are using Brow.si, and consume that content through the platform’s own reader. Again, users don’t have to create an account for this – they just need to log into a social network (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) for sharing purposes, after which Brow.si will know which user is which.

What’s more, MySiteApp has become a WordPress VIP (see disclosure) feature partner, meaning sites using that publishing platform can easily install the Brow.si plugin. But again, that’s not all: as alluded to above, Brow.si is a platform in its own right, and it aims to help publishers monetize their content.

Cashing in

As MySiteApp CEO Gal Brill explained to me, publishers can add so-called “mini applications” that will only show up when the user activates the Brow.si toolbar. When the toolbar is swiped across the screen, it introduces new real estate below it, so the publisher could for example add a mini-app for the content recommendation engine Taboola, or they could even use this new space for traditional ads.

Mini-apps will be made available through Brow.si’s marketplace, and the company has an open API so third-party developers can help populate that marketplace with their own efforts.

It’s all very clever, and the simplicity of installation should give Brow.si a flying start. It remains to be seen, though, whether this sort of functionality will help publishers monetize their content on the mobile web. There are many variables at play here, from users’ desire for content-related push notifications (granularity seems to be lacking) to publishers’ desire for differentiated presentation.

That said, the addition of a new and relatively unobtrusive patch of mobile screen real estate for advertising purposes could turn out to be a welcome development.

Disclosure: Automattic, maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, GigaOm. Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, is also a venture partner at True.

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  1. Adams Brautigam Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    As a mobile application developer I can appreciate this type of work. We build mobile responsive SEO websites along with our apps and this will enable us and other developers to make our websites better serving to our customers.
    Sincerely,
    Larry Addles
    http://www.ABMobileApps.com

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