As Google drops deep linking support, AppsFlyer provides holistic customer journey orchestration

By Larissa Klitzke
Firebase dynamic links deprecation, and how AppsFlyer can help - featured image

“So how do I manage my deep links now?”

That’s the question app developers, marketers, product managers, and business intelligence (BI) teams are asking following Google’s recent announcement that it’s discontinuing Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). In this blog, we’ll look at what this means in practice and how AppsFlyer can help. 

Deep linking is critical for brands to provide seamless experiences into their mobile apps from any channel, platform or device — which ultimately fuels more growth, retention, and revenue. 
As the leading app measurement and deep linking platform, we’re not just here to replace FDLs. Whether you’re a current FDL user or not, we want to help you take your customer experience (CX) strategy to the next level so you can build better customer journeys and maximize return on experience (ROX).

Let’s start by breaking down what Google’s announcement means for you, and the basics of how FDLs work compared to deep linking at large. 

If I’m a current FDL user, when do I need to migrate? 

Google has stated that you’ll have at least 12 months from the announcement date to migrate to another deep linking solution, with more details to come in Q3 2023. This suggests that all FDLs will likely need to migrate by the end of 2024.

What is deep linking and why does it matter for app growth?

Deep links detect the source from which a user clicks on a link and route them to the best destination from there. By providing shorter, contextualized journeys, deep links can yield 2-5x higher conversion rates than regular links.

For example, a deep link can detect that the user is on a mobile device, that they’re using Android (as opposed to iOS), and route them to different destinations depending on whether the app is installed or not. If the app is installed, they’ll be sent straight to the relevant in-app page (skipping the generic app welcome page); otherwise, they’ll be sent to the app store first (to install, then launch the relevant page directly upon first app open). 

Deep linking for growth

Deep linking is the foundation of customer growth for a few reasons:

  • Deep linking effectively detects and routes users across platforms, taking users exactly where they want to go. That means a better user experience, with less chance of them getting lost or abandoning what they were doing. 
  • Consumers constantly move between platforms and devices – but they expect an equally smooth journey wherever they are. 
  • App routing is perhaps the most complex use case supported by deep linking, and apps are the epicenter of user activity. Mobile comprises the majority of web traffic worldwide, and the vast majority of time spent on mobile occurs in-app (90% in the U.S. alone). We’ve also seen numerous examples where mobile app engagement and revenue exceeds web. 

Firebase Dynamic Links are essentially Google’s solution to deep linking. The catch is, they only work in certain environments. Essentially, they’re designed to migrate users from web to app. They have known limitations in other environments, when used at scale, and when advanced measurement and use cases come into play.

If you’re looking to market and scale your app growth outside of targeted web or mobile ad environments (for example, email, CTV, offline, QR codes), you’ll want a universal linking solution that can seamlessly route across all platforms, in all edge cases, with full measurement baked in. That’s where we come in.

AppsFlyer simplifies the complexities of deep linking across platforms, channels and use cases. We eliminate the need for multiple tools and internal dev work, by enabling the creation, management, and measurement of links for owned, earned, and paid channels within a unified platform.

AppsFlyer advantages

AppsFlyer deep links not only enhance the basic web-to-app use case, but help users move between numerous other channels too.  Here are just a few examples of common user journeys we support that go beyond the scope of FDL: 

  • Web-to-app: Easily deploy and customize Smart Banners and Smart Scripts to help web users seamlessly migrate to your app. 
  • Email-to-app: Avoid link wrapping issues with full email service provider (ESP) support, ensuring smooth and measurable journeys from email.
  • QR-to-app: Customize QR codes across CTV, out of home, print or in-store environments, with the ability to change the backend link anytime. 
  • Social-to-app: Break out of walled gardens to ensure users can find your app from social, while simplifying measurement of influencer campaigns.  

In addition to unlocking new user journeys, AppsFlyer also makes it easier to navigate the backend logistics of link management. 

To simplify link creation, we offer a simple experience navigator as well as advanced tooling such as bulk management, link templates, branded links, customizable content previews, and flexible audience targeting. To maximize web-to-app conversion, we also offer a self-serve Smart Banner creation studio, offering ready-made templates and full customization capabilities.

AppsFlyer advantage 2: privacy-centric measurement

While deep linking facilitates better experiences into your app, the journey itself is only half the equation to provide good UX. 

You’ll also need holistic attribution and analytics, so you can measure and optimize every journey from start to finish. That includes multi-touch attribution for all paid and owned marketing touch points before and after the link click, as well as in-app engagement, revenue and LTV post-install. 

Although AppsFlyer isn’t the only option for deep linking and attribution, we are the market leader. As such, we offer a few advantages that can make a big difference in your ability to maximize business value in a privacy-conscious way:

  • Advanced measurement: Go beyond the basics to accelerate app growth with industry-exclusive solutions like creative analytics, incrementality, predictive analytics and our Privacy Cloud – which includes a Data Clean Room, among other leading solutions like Single Source of Truth (a unified dashboard deduplicating SKAN and non-SKAN data). We also provide industry-leading ROAS & LTV attribution, so you can easily integrate and prove the true value of all your paid and owned campaigns. 
  • Privacy: As the only 100% independent, unbiased attribution provider, we will never sell or share your 1st party data with other advertisers. 
  • Security: Our closed source SDK is backed by data encryption, anti-DDoS protection, WAF, continuous 24/7 monitoring and the most robust set of InfoSec certifications in the industry.
  • Reliability: Scale matters here. With the infrastructure to support 89K active mobile app customers, we have 99.9% uptime.
  • Innovation: With over 400 engineers, we released 91 product updates last year. Our competitors released 12-30 each. Our agile, customer-first approach makes a difference when new ecosystem changes and needs emerge, so you can consistently stay ahead of the competition. 

Maximizing ROX: success stories

We’ve mentioned a lot of features and functionalities so far, but at the end of the day, the results matter most. Here are just a few examples of the success we’ve helped our customers achieve with deep linking across various industries:

  • +116% app revenue – Concrete Software (Gaming)
  • +100% ARPU – Macy’s (Shopping)
  • +30% ARPU – Apartmentlist (Lifestyle)
  • +73% ROAS – Chocofood (QSR)
  • +100% active users, -66% CAC – Sendwave (Finance)
  • +50% repeat customers YoY, +30% ROAS – Treatwell (Lifestyle)
  • 10X CTR into the app – FOX (Entertainment)
  • +60% in-app conversions – Cooltra (Travel)
  • +20% in-app conversion rate – Gett (Travel)
  • +38% in-app conversion rate – OfferUp (Shopping)

Check out our success stories page to read more about how these results came to fruition, and pick up some inspiration for your business.

Where to go from here: get started with AppsFlyer

It’s easy to get started with AppsFlyer, even if you don’t have a large budget to work with. In fact, deep linking is even more important in times of recession and/or when your media budgets are down — this is the time to double down on customer engagement and experience.

You can get started today with our free plan, which enables wide deep linking functionality for up to 12,000 app conversions. To learn more about how we can help you scale beyond that, we’d love to speak with you, understand your needs, and provide more clarity on what makes us different. 

So, while Google’s announcement means a change, there’s no need to panic. It may be the end of the road for FDL, but your deep linking journey with AppsFlyer is just beginning.

Larissa Klitzke

As a Product Marketing Team Lead at AppsFlyer, Larissa leads strategic initiatives for sales enablement and content development in North America. Larissa brings a unique perspective to the team with seven years of agency experience in cross-platform media planning and marketing strategy. Through previous roles at M&C Saatchi and Carat, Larissa has worked closely with leading brands including Microsoft, Amazon, Sony and Red Bull.
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