New data: Web attributed for 15%-30% of ‘organic’ installs | AppsFlyer
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Web Attributed for 15%-30% of ‘Organic’ and Owned Media Installs, New Data Shows

Jillian Gogel Jillian Gogel Nov 21, 2019

The job of a digital marketer has never been more challenging. This is because digital marketers are responsible for measuring spend across all key growth areas (including devices, platforms, and channels) and connect this performance directly to revenue with attribution data. Easier said than done, but nonetheless, it is an important approach to follow, one connected touchpoint at a time. 

In a mobile-first world, one connection stands above all: web-to-app. The ability to tie activity in a mobile app to previous actions taken on a website (mobile or desktop) is a necessity that is directly in line with how users interact across the conversion funnel.

In fact, an initial analysis of several dozen app marketers who measured their web-to-app connection with AppsFlyer’s People-Based Attribution solution found that website visits are actually the source of a significant number of installs that were previously labeled as organic or owned media. How significant? All apps in the analysis exceeded 15%, while in some cases, the number was as high as 30%. 


Double demand for web-to-app connection

There are two significant drivers for visibility into web-to-app connections. On the one hand, companies that emerged during mobile’s initial rise poured many of their resources into mobile apps. Gradually, however, they have come to realize the web’s continued and important presence in the user journey, especially as the entry point from search. 

Needless to say, marketers want credit for their work, and driving users from web to app simply means attributing web activity for a larger number of installs that were previously thought of as being organic. It is the job of marketers to drive demand; it is indeed demand that they have driven (via Smart Banners or other promotions). 

On the other hand are companies with an established web presence that put a limited amount of priority, if any, into app development, sometimes only developing a mobile website. While these companies have traditionally cited development costs and sufficiency of mobile web as reasons for this inaction, many are now starting to acknowledge the role of the app as the ultimate consumer touchpoint. 

Why is this so? Apps are where we spend most of our time, where we enjoy an improved native user experience leading to increased conversions, and where brands are able to foster engagement, long term loyalty, and brand awareness (through push notifications, home screen icons, etc).   

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Why is holistic attribution such a challenge? 

We’ve established above that the web-to-app connection is perhaps the most important touchpoint in the consumer journey, yet it is only one piece of people-based attribution (PBA), which is a challenging one. 

Given the complexity of overall PBA connectivity, it is no wonder that marketers face many challenges in tackling the vision of holistic, cross-channel measurement. In fact, eMarketer data shows that less than 10% of companies are successfully measuring holistically today. 

In a world of increasing technological development, this can mean the difference between bleeding marketing budgets and a highly engaging user experience. Establishing a strong web-to-app connection, therefore, could be a great start down this road.

A recent survey of marketers that AppsFlyer conducted at MMA’s MATT Unplugged in New York about PBA showed that 33% struggle to get satisfactory data accuracy. Other factors include the ease of integrating the attribution platform, as well as privacy —  which remain a concern for 20% and 18% of advertisers, respectively. 

The good news is that there are solutions that help alleviate these concerns: 

  • Data accuracy. Unlike the mobile ecosystem, where a measurement partner sends data about a specific engagement, web is a more open environment, meaning attribution relies on sound logic to collect the different data points and make valid inferences based on them. For the highest data accuracy possible, marketers should work with an attribution provider that offers  such capabilities and promotes data quality not only from a functional standpoint, but as a core value. 
  • Ease of integration. Despite myths of its complexity, implementing a web SDK is astonishingly easy. The code itself is typically lightweight and is simple, reliable, and flexible in terms of configuration and capabilities. A good people-based attribution platform will seek to level the ease between web and mobile SDKs for an equally powerful solution across all channels. 
  • Privacy. Since the typical customer naturally flows among  a variety of platforms and channels, none should be given more weight over the others. That is, even (or especially) with mobile-first companies, the web and app environments are both mission-critical to high performance and, as such, should be held to the same privacy considerations as well. 

Perhaps most critically, an attribution platform choosing to collect user data in a private graph database accessible only to a single advertiser automatically limits other companies working with that same platform from receiving and analyzing it. In this approach, companies are able to relieve pressure from first-party ownership concerns, but still do not compromise on the personalization fueled by this mission-critical data. 

In contrast, shared graphs merge user data from all brands working with the attribution provider, subsequently making it accessible to all regardless of which company made the match to begin with. While advantageous to brands that may not have the scale to compile such a database, this approach is also problematic given the obvious privacy implications, the unreliability of data based on these implications (i.e. when users request to erase data), and the competitive disadvantages of shared information. 

According to AppsFlyer’s MMA survey, 75% of marketers answered “little to none” when asked if they currently perform cross-channel measurement of their users’ journeys, and only 5% employed full omni-channel attribution. Additionally, when asked if implementing people-based attribution was part of their two year plan, only 20% said yes. Clearly, the gap lies not only in the potential for holistic measurement, but also in perceptions of its ease and success as well.

Nonetheless, marketers also tend to be aware of the benefits, citing budget optimization (73% of respondents), relevant messaging (67%), cross channel targeting (63%), and identifying media sources (53%) as the primary. These days, it’s not a question of “why people-based attribution,” but rather, “how people-based attribution.” Fortunately, given the technological solutions mentioned above, the future looks quite promising, not only in terms of higher adoption and implementation rates, but also for marketers, as providers find the right tools to deliver on the people-based attribution potential.


For more information, our comprehensive guide, From Mobile Attribution to Holistic People-Based Innovation, covers all you need to know about people-based attribution, including the evolution of mobile and web for holistic measurement. Download your free copy here: