What is Edge Computing and How it Benefits Mobile Marketing

    By Anna Benn, Content Manager at OpenBack Mobile Engagement Published on Oct. 21, 2020

    In the age of smartphones and the Internet of Things, we are online everywhere and all the time. Especially during these times of remote work and social distancing, it becomes imperative that our devices allow us to communicate reliably and in real-time.

    This real-time communication is necessary not only when it comes to talking with each other, or with our workplace, but also when it comes to our communicating with the brands we use and vice-versa.

    Mobile marketing has grown tremendously in the past decade. Since Apple first introduced the mobile push notification in 2009, for its iOS 3.0, brands have learned how to refine their tactics from the initial notification blasts that gave mobile engagement a bad name. Now, push notifications are capable of being relevant and personalized to the users who receive them. Unlike their predecessors, they have the capacity of being fully compliant to regional data privacy laws (such as GDPR, COPPA, HIPAA, etc.) while having virtually zero latency period. The driving force behind these innovations is edge computing.

    What Is Edge Computing?

    First of all, let’s do a quick overview of what is edge computing and how it works.

    Edge computing is data computing that takes the opposite approach of cloud computing. What is cloud computing? We’re all familiar with the idea of storing our data on the cloud – a central server that stores and processes mass amounts of data from a number of devices. Cloud computing is when data from a large number of devices are transported and processed on that main centralized server.

    Edge computing, then, is the decentralization of data processing. Rather than transporting millions or billions of pieces of unique data to one massive data center, the data processing occurs locally – that is, on the individual devices where the data originated. This distribution of computing is effectively revolutionizing the digital space, and it comes with many advantages, as we’ll explore more below.

    What Are the Benefits of Edge Computing?

    There are a multitude of benefits to edge computing that makes it attractive to the next generation of devices. Chief among these are speed and security. 

    Speed

    One huge advantage of edge computing is that it cuts back considerably on the latency and time lag that comes with processing data in the cloud.

    Even if you don’t have a degree in computer engineering, this one is just common sense. If you send something to a second location to be processed, and then a response comes back from that second location, there’s going to be a delay involved. Even if what you’re sending is pieces of information, when you’re talking billions and even trillions of data bytes, the collective milliseconds of delay are going to add up, no matter how powerful the server. Edge computing removes the need for that journey, as all data gets processed at its source, thus removing the delay. It’s more efficient not only in time, but in processing power as well.

    Security

    In a similar line of thinking, edge computing is also a safer option from a data security standpoint. When a large amount of personal data is stored in one centralized server, this becomes an enticing target for hackers. One DDoS attack has the potential to expose the private information of millions of users. Whereas with edge computing, where all data stays on its local device, there is less of an incentive for hackers to execute 50 million DDoS attacks to gain the same amount of private data.

    Edge Computing Use Cases in Mobile Marketing

    With mobile phones acting as our primary interface for interacting with the digital world, edge computing has enormous potential for streamlining and optimizing when and how we receive information.

    Much of mobile marketing revolves around push notifications, those bite-sized messages from apps that pop up at the top of your phone. To understand the way edge computing has completely overhauled the way push notifications are sent, let’s break down the traditional architecture of the push notification platform.

    Edge computing mobile marketing graph

    Image Source: Openback.com

    Push notifications originate in the mobile OS notification framework for each individual app downloaded on the device. The app then sends a string of data that allows for the routing of messages (known as a push token) to the app’s backend server. The app server then forwards the push token plus the content of the notification to a global cloud server. Depending on what OS the device is, this cloud server is either Android’s Firebase or Apple’s APNS.

    It’s the stopover in the cloud server that is the root of the inefficiencies of the traditional method. APNS or Firebase ultimately decides the moment to send the final push notification to the device. The app itself has no input or control, and if the push token changes on the app’s end in the meantime, then the token will have to re-register with the server, causing a time lag and reliability issues.

    This can result in considerable problems, including delays, push notifications arriving in jumbled order, and even failure to deliver. From a UX viewpoint, it’s a nuisance; and from a mobile marketing standpoint, it’s a disaster.

    Edge Computing Provides Solutions

    By cutting out the cloud server from the equation, edge computing allows for the leveraging of data within the device in true real-time. The push token journey takes place between the device and the app’s backend, with no third party involved. Not only does this do away with any delays to delivery (as well as the cost and bandwidth usage associated with transporting data to a centralized server), but also it takes away the risk of the user’s data being compromised if a cloud server is breached.

    With all personal data staying on the individual device and in the user’s possession, the mobile app is no longer liable for that data’s security. Thus, they are able to remain fully compliant with data privacy regulations, while continuing to access user data to personalize the content and timing of push notifications. This allows for more accurate timing when it comes to the delivery of notifications, as well as more relevant content to suit individual users’ interests. It’s a real win-win, for both users and marketers. 


    About OpenBack

    OpenBack is the only mobile engagement platform that utilizes edge computing, machine learning, and device-side decisions to provide your app with the tools you need to personalize your mobile ad campaign, drive user engagement, and maximize customer retention. By rebuilding the structure of mobile engagement software, OpenBack provides a highly reliable and dynamic solution for sending customized push notifications in true real-time.