Mobile Attribution

What is mobile attribution?

Mobile attribution is the practice of attributing app installs to their original source by tracking exactly where the user came from before they installed the app. Mobile attribution aims to build a picture of how users learned about the app before they landed on an App Store page to install it.

For example, if a user saw an ad for an app on social media, tapped on it, and then installed the app, that download will be attributed to that specific ad.

Paid mobile attribution is made possible by intelligence tools such as AppsFlyer and Adjust. These fill in the information gap that the App Store and Google Play leave, as they disallow traditional link tracking in their app stores.

Why is mobile attribution important?

Mobile attribution is the main tool paid user acquisition teams use to understand how to most efficiently allocate their advertising budgets. Without mobile attribution it would be difficult to measure how many installs each ad has generated, making it impossible to accurately calculate return on ad spend (ROAS). ROAS is used to understand the profitability of ad campaigns and individual ads.

Mobile attribution and app store growth

Mobile attribution is widely used and accepted as the standard in the paid user acquisition department, but it’s actually crucial for all App Store marketing efforts.

And that’s because the effectiveness of an ad is more than just those who click on it immediately. Some users (like in conventional offline advertising) are exposed to the ad but choose not to act on it then and there. When these users install the app later on, that decision was impacted by seeing the ad, and that impact should be taken into account by all marketing teams.

Since a user does not necessarily install an app right after seeing an ad, paid install growth and organic install growth are heavily intertwined. In order to accurately and correctly attribute the true effect of running an ad, teams should include both the direct attribution (a user clicked on the ad itself and installed the app immediately) as well as the indirect attribution (a user saw the ad but never installed the app at that time; the user entered the App Store later and installed the app).

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