Let Firebase help your next digital campaign development

Digital campaign development is tricky due to a lot of development limitations. Read how Firebase can make it easier for you.

What is Firebase?

“Firebase is a mobile and web application platform with tools and infrastructure designed to help developers build high-quality apps.”  —- Wikipedia.

So what tools and infrastructure does Firebase have? Firebase has a lot of great features from the development side like a real-time database, authentication, hosting and storage. On the business side there are features such as notifications, app indexing, and Adwords. So, Firebase is a comprehensive solution that will give you a lot of support and save you a lot of time while you are building agile apps.

I know what you are thinking, it looks cool, but what does it have to do with a digital marketing campaign? Digital marketing campaigns are not apps and Firebase seems like overkill here. Well, it’s actually not. To figure out how Firebase will help on your next digital marketing campaign, let’s take a look at the pain points of campaign development.

 

The pain points of digital campaign development

The tech stack and database

When a digital campaign has nothing to do with data, most of the time, it’s easy to execute. However, when a digital campaign does have something to do with data manipulation, things start to get tricky.

In order to manipulate data, you have to leverage the tech stack in use for the current site. It could be LAMP or .NET/IIS, MEAN or anything. If you work on an in-house project, that might be fine. But if you work for an agency, that could be a nightmare. It would be hard someone to master all kinds of different development stacks at the same time.

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Another problem you may encounter is that the main database for a site may not be able to easily grant a separate marketing campaign access for security reasons. You’ll probably spend a lot of time just connecting your campaign to the database or creating a separate database.

Last but not the least, the database design will bite you sometimes. One characteristic of digital campaigns is that they are developed in a relatively short period of time. Therefore, well-prepared user research and technical documents might not exist. During the development phase and even after launch, new ideas and changes will keep coming, and some of them might need you to alter the database.

The Storage

For some digital campaigns, user-generated content is an important component. So you might need some storage for content uploaded by users. You will most likely meet the same problem you have with the database. You cannot share the main storage for security reasons and creating a separate store could be cumbersome especially if you are working with a client.

The Authentication

When you need authentication for your digital campaign, and you or your client are not running a business that already has a well-built authentication system you can borrow, what do you do? Building an authentication system from scratch will be time-consuming even if you are working with something you are familiar with, not to mention, if you are working with a backend stack or frameworks that you are not familiar with.

And, in most cases, you will want to include social logins to improve your users’ engagement rate. Nevertheless, figuring out the configuration for each of these social platforms will be a little overwhelming.

 

How can Firebase help?

Each of the pain points in the list above will make your digital campaign development harder and slower. However, as we all know, timing is important in the digital marketing world. Sometimes, if you don’t get your campaign live on time, then everything will become pointless. So, let’s see how Firebase can help you.

Easy to setup

All you need to do is go to firebase.google.com (yeah, it’s a Google product), get yourself an account and create a new project, then boom! Right off the bat, you have at least three things immediately ready for you:

  • Realtime Database
  • Storage
  • Authentication system

What you just accomplished is like creating a separate cloud server and having the database and storage space ready, but in a lot less time.

Also, you don’t need to worry about access to the database or any security issue you might have with the main site, because it’s completely separate and you have full control over the security rules in the database.

Firebase has more to offer, but most of its features are for mobile apps. However, what it offers for web apps is more than enough for us.

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Now we need to configure your development to make it work with the database, the storage, and the authentication system, and here is another place where Firebase will shine.

Pure Client-Side Development

Remember the trouble caused by the unfamiliar backend stack? Now it’s gone. Everything is front-end and client side now. In a simple word – JavaScript.  In modern websites, JavaScript is basically unavoidable, and if you want to build some cool campaign sites with interesting animations, JavaScript is something you will use heavily. With Firebase you can use pure Javascript to handle the communication with the database. No more wondering about what backend stack you’ll need to work with because you can use a  single language all the time. It’s kind of like using AJAX to do everything but someone wrote endpoints for you already.

You might have a concern about the pure client side approach, and I had the same concern at the beginning too —— is it safe? Pure client side means the connection is actually happening on the client side, so what if the user figures it out and tries to connect to your database by themselves?

The answer is, Firebase is secure on pure client side. Firstly, you can compress it to make it unreadable and you can use a JS development pattern to secure your functions like closure,  you can check Can Client-Side JavaScript Protect Itself? to know more. Secondly, you can easily set security rules in Firebase to limit prevent unauthorized connections.

And it’s not only the database that you can use Javascript to connect to, but also the Storage and the configuration with authentication.

Authentication with social login built in

Firebase has four built-in social logins, they are Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Github. That covers most of the social logins that will be needed. Since they are built-in, you don’t need to go through their documentation one by one. All you need to is pick which of them you want to enable in the settings, then pick the right methods in the Firebase Javascript SDK.

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NoSQL

Firebase’s database is based on NoSQL. And it is perfect for digital campaigns.

While SQL databases are the most popular database type used in web development, NoSQL is getting more and more popular nowadays. It definitely can not replace SQL, and in most cases, SQL is still the better solution, but NoSQL fits our case here better because of one of its major features – Dynamic Schema.

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When it comes to SQL database, one of the most important things is to design a schema. The problem is once a schema is implemented, it will not be super easy to change it.And, in our case, we probably don’t even know every piece of data we want to store for our campaign due to its short planning phase and marketing trends change quickly. Building on a NoSQL driven database will make you worry-free for those changes to the schema, because it can handle them on the go. You can insert data without the predefined schema, and you don’t need to worry about how other data will be affected. All in all, this makes the NoSQL database super flexible.

There are some other benefits from NoSQL, if you want to know more about it, you can check out the documentation of popular NoSQL databse MongoDB

 

Summary

Firebase can help to fix most of the significant pain points during digital campaign development. And more importantly, it’s easy to learn. It has a very gradual learning curve and super comprehensive documentation and examples. Those benefits make Firebase a really strong candidate for digital campaign development solution. If you have those pain points I list and you haven’t tried Firebase, I strongly recommend you to give it a shot.

 

 

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