If you’re moderately tech savvy you can easily get around advertising. On the web you can install an ad blocker to your browser, and television is so much cleaner on ad-free Netflix.

Over the christmas holidays, bored, and playing around with my phone’s settings I went through and killed lock screen notifications in basically every app except for Whatsapp, and my life is so much better for it. Lock-screen notifications are this generation’s new type of ad that disguises itself as as a service, but like any advertisement it’s designed to distract you to from whatever it was you were trying to do.

I was reminded of this today by this great The Onion headline: New Facebook Notifications Alert Users When They Not Currently Looking At Facebook

Take a look at your phone right now – you’ve probably got a notification from Facebook that your mom updated her status (thank goodness you made her one of your “close friends”), Shazam is letting you know about the most popular single in the UK, your newsreader is alerting you to some ‘breaking’ headline, and that free-to-play game you downloaded is dying to let you know your energy levels are full.

I don’t really have anything against Facebook or free games or the news, but if they have any updates they can let me know when I’m looking at their icons on the home screen. When a clickbaity “popular status” Facebook notification turns into red number on the Facebook app icon, you see it rightfully as something not worth your time. Turning them off, or not allowing them in the first place takes two seconds and saves you from the rabbit hole of looking at your phone to do one task, but ending up doing another.

Gaming your lock screen
When talking about the rise of free-to-play gaming it’s easy to talk about how the competitive app store pushed prices down to zero, or how in-app purchases provide the financial mechanism to support F2P games. But could you imagine the industry really taking off if they weren’t able to buzz your pocket every 20 minutes to let you know your base was attacked, or that you’ve finally gotten enough fake energy to play Candy Crush again?

Personally I’m tired of these notifications, but only because they’re effective. Entrepreneurs looking to build traction for their apps would do well to study how the best are playing the notification game. They’re similar to writing headlines for articles – without the right punch to them, no one will open them.