Skip to main content

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The number of apps across iOS and Google is increasing by the day causing a typical smartphone user to get overwhelmed with the many choices they have. That’s why it is becoming increasingly important for app developers and marketers to pay attention to mobile attribution. Simply put, no app can grow without truly understanding who their users are and creating a personalized journey for them. 

What is mobile attribution? 

The two key players in mobile apps — Apple and Google — create an information gap between who sees what when they discover your app and who actually installs it. That’s where mobile attribution tracking comes in. 

Mobile attribution is basically tracking where users are learning about your app, and connecting the data you collate to direct them to key actions that eventually lead them to install the app or converting on an in-app purchase. 

For example, with mobile attribution, you can match two data points, like your ad spend, to user engagement or installs. You basically get to see which ad a user is interacting with and how. It helps you understand what motivated them to install the app. 

Mobile attribution helps advertisers and marketers understand their users on a 1:1 basis which can cause them to identify and tag relevant cohorts, identify groups that respond to their campaigns (or not) and determine how they interact with the app by tracking key events. 

Why is mobile attribution important? 

According to Statista, mobile advertising is expected to reach $247.4 billion in 2020 globally. But apart from letting you know which platforms, sites, and ad networks are generating installs, mobile attribution also helps you identify areas for improvement in the app. 

It helps you measure advertising success. 

App install attribution helps you identify which channels and campaigns are bringing in the most number of conversions, and the amount you’ve spent to get these installs as you get a complete record of what a user saw before the install. This helps app marketers keep their budgets optimized by focusing on channels working well for them – instead of spreading themselves too thin across the digital landscape. 

It helps you improve user experience. 

When you track user events, you have clear visibility on how they interact with your paid campaigns and your app. This enables you to change and improve every aspect of your campaign – right from the copy to the creatives, your app screens and content for better engagement and even your ad spend. 

It bridges the information gap. 

Mobile app installs tracking helps bridge the information gap that Apple and to some extent, Google, creates between sites and advertisers. This gives advertisers more data on the users – right from when they discover the app to an install and then their in-app actions. Without mobile attribution, advertisers need to rely on metrics offered by advertising networks that make it impossible to measure the effectiveness of campaigns. 

How do you use mobile attribution? 

Mobile attribution gives marketers an understanding of their user journey – before and after they install the app. Here are a few examples of mobile attribution:  

Connect app advertising to user installs 

Mobile app install tracking enables you to connect a user to the relevant app store for an install when they click through an app. For example, the user sees your campaign in another mobile app. When they click on it, they’re taken through mobile attribution to the right store from where they can install the app. 

Know users who come through desktop advertising 

If you’re running a campaign on all devices, it is important to know the effectiveness of the desktop ad placement. App install attribution connects the data of a user who experiences your ad on non-mobile devices with actual installs from the app store. 

Identify your most valuable users

Mobile attribution gives you a complete record of advertising and in-app experience for each user. With the before and after app installs data, you can identify which advertising journey led to the highest revenue for your app and identify the most valuable users to use the data for referral campaigns and loyalty programs.

But just like a user’s journey, there is not one absolute way of tracking installs that work for all apps. Advertisers can choose to track app installs in different ways with different mobile attribution models. 

What are the different types of mobile attribution? 

Every user’s journey through an advertising campaign is different. They may see your campaign on Twitter and directly install the app but there’s also a chance that they first see the ad on Facebook, then on Twitter, then on a third-party site and then on another mobile app before actually interacting with it. 

That’s why there are different mobile attribution models to help you understand which of the multiple touchpoints led to the install. 

  • First touch attribution: In this model, the credit for an advertising interaction is given to the very first point of contact a user has with the campaign. 
  • Last touch attribution: Under this model, the credit for interaction or an install is given to the final point of contact a user has in the campaign. 
  • Multi-touch attribution: This model credits different traffic sources with varying weights for an advertising interaction. The mobile attribution model leads to multiple channels benefitting from a user’s campaign interaction. 
  • View-through attribution: The attribution model attributes impressions to installs. It helps you attribute value to campaigns and ads that may not lead to direct installs, but play a key role in the conversion funnel. 

Does your app need mobile attribution? 

Internet users are active on different channels for different purposes so how they interact with your campaigns varies too. They might discover your app on one platform but finally, decide to install it when they see it on another channel. 

With mobile app attribution, you can shorten the conversion cycle and optimize your advertising budgets to get more installs for less!  


Vanhishikha Bhargava

Vanhishikha Bhargava is a content writer at GetSocial, an all-in-one solution to empower mobile app marketing and product teams with growth tools to maximize user acquisition, engagement, and retention.

Leave a Reply