Mobile Attribution Models

Methods for Pinpointing the Origins of a Non-Organic Install

There are two primary models used for mobile attribution: Last-touch and multi-touch. Last-touch attribution, the most common of the two, happens when an install or re-engagement is matched to the last touch point in the user journey within the attribution window. The “window,” also known as a lookback window, is the allowable period of time from the last touch (i.e., click or view) to the install. The last touch gets the credit and payment. For example, if the cost-per-install is $2, the media source to last touch the user would get this full amount.

Multi-touch attribution is a method for identifying various touch points along a user journey that lead to a conversion, whether it’s an install or purchase. Multi-touch attribution can be single-channel (across one device) or omni-channel across different devices (e.g., mobile, desktop, TV) or even offline.

The touch points that preceded the last touch are seen by advertisers and attribution providers as “assists.” Assists reveal more of the actual story about how and why a user converted and play a major role in future budget allocation decisions. With a wider perspective on the user journey, app marketers can budget more effectively and realistically for each point (i.e., media source) that contributed to an install.

Multi-touch attribution, when also referred to as fractional attribution, alludes to weighted credit given to media sources that indirectly contributed to the conversion. Fractional attribution is considered a model for the future of attribution. The idea is that even media sources that touched users along the way (before the last touch) will receive some fraction of the payment.