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  • Jessica Ramirez

Time Traveling with Braze: Understanding their Date-Based Nuances

Updated: May 19, 2023

In our last article we learned that the answer to "Does Time Really Matter?" is an astounding yes! As a user of the Braze platform, you may have noticed that there are certain nuances when it comes to segmenting users based on date or time. While it may seem frustrating, Braze has made these decisions based on their primary focus of real-time customer engagement.

Age is Just a Number… in Days and Weeks

When building a segment with the “Time” data type in Braze, it refers to a number of days or weeks. Seems obvious, but you should know that Braze focuses on relative timeframes rather than specific dates – a detail that’s NOT obvious, but quite critical, to keep in mind. So, what does that mean for your app group, how do you target for Years” if that’s not a measured timeframe?

One good option is to make an “Age” custom attribute for segmentation purposes as it can play a big role in determining a customer's behaviors, preferences, and needs. As an example, you might be executing a retail campaign focused on skincare products for customers in their 30s or a financial retirement campaign for customers in their 50s. Since Braze doesn't use years as a date unit of measure, age needs to be stored as a "Number" data type using the filters “more than,” “less than,” or “exactly.” We know, it’s already more complex than you thought. We get it!

Did you know… Braze operates on a UNIX operating system that measures time as the number of seconds that have passed since January 1st, 1970, at 00:00:00 UTC. This means that time didn’t exist for UNIX (or Braze) before January 1st, 1970, and that limits you to referencing any point in time earlier than that.

Sorry Boomer

But why go waaaaay back in time when there weren’t computers or color tv? Do we really need to go back that far? Well, pretend you’re a lending institution and you want to offer a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Certainly, there are homes built before 1970. And maybe you decide that you want to personalize the offer and communication by leveraging the build date of their home.

To do this, you can create a custom attribute in Braze called "Build Date" with a data type of "Time.” Once you have this custom attribute, you can populate it with the build dates of the properties you want to target.

The most simple segment in Braze to capture these old homes would be something that includes the "Build Date" attribute and filter it using a date range before January 1st, 1970 (as shown below).

Alternatively, if you need to make more specific segment groups involving dates before 1970, you’ll need to revert back to the aforementioned “Age” range solution that uses Numbers rather than Dates.

We’ve solutioned through many different time and date variables and know it can be frustrating. We hope this information helps you better understand why Braze has date limitations and how you can use these segmentation options to build complex and nuanced user segments that align with your business’s unique needs and goals.

Keep following our “Brazed and Confused” series to hear more about lessons we’ve learned so you don’t have to!


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