Firebase Dynamic Links

Google announced they are discontinuing their popular URL shortening service, goo.gl. Current users of Goog.gl can continue to use their Goo.gl console for an additional year. The Goo.gl console will permanently close on March 19, 2019. Google is not leaving Goo.gl users without options. The reason Goo.gl has been shut down is because it has been superceded by new technology called Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). Google is encouraging users to transition to FDL, Bitly or Ow.ly.

Firebase Dynamic Links is part of a larger suite of products focused on app developers. The importance of FDL is its ability to provide a seamless link between a website and a mobile app. With FDL your business can provide a deep link straight to any location in your app. Here is how Google’s documentation describes FDL:

Firebase Dynamic Links are links that work the way you want, on multiple platforms, and whether or not your app is already installed. With Dynamic Links, your users get the best available experience for the platform they open your link on. If a user opens a Dynamic Link on iOS or Android, they can be taken directly to the linked content in your native app. If a user opens the same Dynamic Link in a desktop browser, they can be taken to the equivalent content on your website.

Firebase Dynamic Links promises to be free forever. If your business has an app or may have an app in the future, FDL may be useful for providing new and better experiences for users.

If your business is focused on app installs, then FDL could be useful for driving app installs.

FDL links also continue the traditional shortlinking function and Google welcomes consumers to migrate to their platform. But the welcome isn’t particularly enthusiastic, as Google also encourages users to check out competing URL shortening services.

Nevertheless, you may wish to at least give FDL a try to see if it provides the analytics functionality you need. If in the future your business decides to transition to an app, having existing FDL links may make the transition easier.

Main Features of FDL

Deep links that survive the install process

Dynamic Links are smart URLs that allow you to send existing and potential users to any location within your iOS or Android app. They survive the app install process, so even new users see the content they’re looking for when they open the app for the first time. Dynamic Links are free forever, for any scale.

Convert mobile web users to native app users

With Dynamic Links, you can seamlessly transition users from your mobile website to the equivalent content within your app. And because the links survive the app install process, even new users can pick up where they left off on your mobile site without missing a beat.

Increase conversion for user-to-user sharing

When a user shares content from your app, the ultimate goal is to convert their friends into active native app users. One of the most effective ways to accomplish that is to skip your generic onboarding and present personalized content when the app is first opened. Using Dynamic Links makes this easy.

Drive more installs with social, email, and SMS marketing campaigns

Promotional campaigns that include Dynamic Links work for all users on every platform. When users open or install your app, they see the exact content your campaign is marketing, including any discounts you’re offering.

Turn desktop users into mobile app users

Dynamic Links can help migrate users from your website to your mobile app. Give them an easy way to send themselves a deep link that, when clicked on a mobile device, automatically opens in the right context within your app (even if they need to install the app first).

How does it work?

You create a Dynamic Link either by using the Firebase console, using a REST API, iOS or Android Builder API, or by forming a URL by adding Dynamic Link parameters to a domain specific to your app. These parameters specify the links you want to open, depending on the user’s platform and whether your app is installed.

When a user opens one of your Dynamic Links, if your app isn’t yet installed, the user is sent to the Play Store or App Store to install your app (unless you specify otherwise), and your app opens. You can then retrieve the link that was passed to your app and handle the deep link as appropriate for your app.

Implementation Method

1. Set up Firebase and the Dynamic Links SDK

Enable Firebase Dynamic Links for your Firebase project in the Firebase console. Then, include the Dynamic Links SDK in your app.

2. Create Dynamic Links

You can create Dynamic Links programmatically or by using the Firebase console.

3. Handle Dynamic Links in your app

When your app opens, use the Dynamic Links SDK to check if a Dynamic Link was passed to it. If so, get the deep link from the Dynamic Link data and handle the deep link as necessary.

4. View analytics data

Track the performance of your Dynamic Links in the Firebase console.

Create Dynamic Links

There are four ways you can create a Dynamic Link:

  • Using the Firebase console. This is useful if you’re creating promo links to share on social media. This way you can select a custom suffix and a name for the link in the Firebase console. You can track the performance of these Dynamic Links in the Firebase console or via the Analytics REST API.
  • Using the Dynamic Link Builder API on iOS and Android. This is the preferred way to dynamically create links in your app for user-to-user sharing or in any situation that requires many links. You can track the performance of Dynamic Links created with the Builder API using the Dynamic Links Analytics API.
  • Using the REST API. This is the preferred way to dynamically create links on platforms that don’t have a Builder API. The Analytics REST API can be used to track the performance of promo campaigns created in the console.
  • Manually. If you don’t need to track click data and you don’t care if the links are long, you can manually construct Dynamic Links using URL parameters, and by doing so, avoid an extra network round trip.

We hope this guide will help you to continue your Goo.gl projects via FDL. Try Firebase today and Integrating it into your app is free & easy.

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