Attribution and Marketing Analytics | AppsFlyer
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Chapter 1

Attribution and Marketing Analytics

You’re a mobile marketer and you’re ready with a cross-device marketing strategy. Based on your app’s goals and road map, you’ve positioned your team to maximize user acquisition and gather crucial insights for future re-engagement activities.

But how do you know what is working and what is not? Enter mobile attribution and the marketing analytics that drive it. By simple definition, mobile [install] attribution is a method for determining which marketing activity delivered specific app installs. Marketers can take data acquired from attribution, broken down on a granular level, and tie it back to performance, revenue, and any number of other post-install activities.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons performing attribution will boost your app’s profitability.


Reason 1: Inform user acquisition decisions with attribution data

When done by a reliable, unbiased provider, mobile attribution can pinpoint the value of specific channels, media sources, publishers, campaigns, and even creatives, in turn allowing you to optimize your app’s performance.

With the wealth data attribution provides, you can easily boost lifetime value (LTV) and ROI, and understand exactly where you should, and shouldn’t, spend your budget.


For more information on how to use attribution data to optimize your campaigns, see chapter 7.


Reason 2: Consolidate your advertising ecosystem into a single SDK

The technical challenges of working with ad networks without an attribution provider are numerous. As a general rule, all networks require an SDK for measurement and optimization, each of which typically needs different implementation, integration, and quality assurance that can unfortunately cause major data discrepancies if not set up properly.

And that’s before your operation gets bigger. Scaling for app marketers who are attempting to manually implement their own attribution means costly new SDK integrations for each ad network they want to add; slowed progress; drained resources; and even negative app performance.

Instead of numerous SDKs resulting in confusion and discrepancy, an app will integrate a single SDK that measures and performs attribution for all of its ad networks. When you integrate with a universal SDK, you can know that your provider has already done the heavy lifting and will be able to connect you to your entire mobile ecosystem:



Reason 3: Get rid of double or triple charging with a trusted, 3rd party provider

Last-touch attribution currently ranks as the standard for attributing installs. This means that the ad network that last “touched” (with an ad view or click) the user gets the full credit.

However, the reality of the user journey is one of multiple touch points before install, which means interactions with multiple media sources. Without a reliable source of attribution, each network that logged a touch on a multi-touch user journey can claim credit and charge you for an install.


Because media sources only see their own touches. Especially as a marketer running campaigns on several media sources, you might easily pay double or triple.

With no dog in the fight, so to speak, an impartial attribution provider trusted by both advertisers and media companies can pinpoint the last touch and connect the entire user journey to future UA and re-engagement decisions.

More importantly, the impartiality gives both marketers and media partners alike confidence that the data is accurate and indisputable. In the end, you pay one source only and everyone is happy (again, assuming last touch standard in place).


How do I best make attribution work for me?

With a fractured mobile landscape and many connections that need to be solidified in order for accurate data to reach your dashboards, your attribution provider can leave no room for error.

But what are the characteristics that make up a good provider and what can you expect as you make this crucial decision? There are many, but here are the top 3:


1) Official Measurement Partner of ALL Top Media Sources

Any marketer running paid user acquisition campaigns is likely working with the biggest media sources out there: Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and the Chinese giant, Tencent. That means they need an official measurement partner who has been extensively vetted for their innovation, service excellence, expertise, and record of success – and who is held to the highest security standards for data integrity.

You should consider the depth of integration your potential provider has with these media sources; include their offerings for impressions, clicks, cost, and the ability to automatically run audience campaigns (such as retargeting and lookalike targeting) in your analyses. Otherwise, you may risk missing large chunks of mission-critical data from the highest performing networks.



2) Scale AND Market Share to Block Fraud

Fraud is a pervasive and inevitable challenge in mobile – preparing your app’s infrastructure for potential attacks now before they become a problem will pay off in the future. The latest study by AppsFlyer on the global state of mobile fraud showed that almost 1 in every 4 installs is fraudulent. No doubt, effective fraud protection is a must have.   

Because of the continuous evolution and increased sophistication of fraudsters, your attribution provider must have two ingredients to be effective:

  1. Massive cross-network scale with significant market penetration.
  2. Machine learning to pull actionable insights from the data and identify new forms of fraud before they inflict serious damage.

These qualities, paired with multi-touch attribution capabilities and a secure SDK, will make it much harder for fraudsters to attack… and win.


3) Trustworthy Security and Privacy Infrastructure

While an extensive integrated partner network and powerful fraud blocking capabilities keep your data aligned with your business goals, no attribution operation ultimately exists without a tight security and privacy infrastructure to back it up. After all, your data is your most important asset that must be safeguarded.

You should look for an enterprise-grade solution that not only was built upon a wide range of policies and procedures (like access management; security for personnel, product, and network; security monitoring; and incident response, among others) but prioritizes your security as mission-critical and operates in real-time.

For more information about security and privacy, visit our Security and Privacy page.


Attribution is the most important component in the mobile marketing tech stack. For much more on mobile attribution and marketing analytics, read our Getting Started with Mobile Attribution guide.