What is cross-device attribution?
Simply put, cross-device attribution is the practice of taking into account all devices that a user used within their buying journey when attributing an install. Cross-device attribution on a user-level is extremely difficult as different devices have different identifiers without a clear way to match those and map them to a single human.
The modern app install funnel may look something like this:
- A user saw a billboard on their commute home.
- Later that evening, the user saw an ad on TV for that same app.
- A week later, the user came across an ad for the app on their laptop while watching YouTube.
- A few days later, the user sees an ad on Facebook on their mobile phone, taps on the ad, and installs the app.
Although modern mobile attribution technology is advancing, the challenge of tracking a person at that level is near to impossible. Thus, with a lack of a better solution, the user will be attributed to the Facebook ad, and that will get the credit for ‘converting’ that user.
Why cross-device attribution is important?
For decades, the marketing industry and the advertisement industry have tried to accurately map the entire user funnel. The holy grail of attribution and the main reason it exists is to identify activities that marketing teams should double down on and other activities they should stop.
As determined in the example above, it’s completely possible that the user had multiple touchpoints that deeply impacted the eventual conversion before seeing the Facebook ad; but, without a way to track it, the ad will get all the credit.
Cross-device attribution and App Store growth
Users in the app stores don’t behave in a way that’s easy to analyze. The actual drivers of why an app starts seeing an increase in organic installs may be activities that happen outside the mobile device of a user, even offline marketing activities.
This challenge has to be considered when analyzing the types of marketing activities a mobile marketing team needs to focus on.