Attribution is the science of attributing a user to its source.

What is Attribution

Attribution is the science of attributing a user to its source. Companies in the mobile apps industry (known as Mobile Measurement Partners MMP’s) such as Adjust, Appsflyer, and Singular, provide attribution technology which delivers key information on a user’s journey from a specific mobile ad to the app itself. 

In the App Store and Google Play, it’s impossible to track which ad a user saw or tapped on before installing and launching an app; there’s no cookies or tracking parameters like there are on the web on the ad level. 

To explain attribution step by step:

  • A user is on an app or online, sees an ad and taps on it.
  • A profile ID is saved by the ad network and ‘data points’ like unique identifiers, IP address and timestamp start to be monitored.
  • The user is taken to the app, installs it and opens it which launches the attribution SDK installed within the app. 
  • Feedback including the profile ID is looped back to the MMP and the source is attributed. 

Why Attribution is Important

By knowing from exactly which source users arrive (and as part of ASO understanding why they respond to some ads and not others), attribution allows UA teams to calculate how well ads and channels perform in bringing in revenues. It helps marketers justify ad spend. It provides feedback which is used to inform marketing decisions and build app product pages that convert at higher rates and drive higher quality installs, thus improving the return on ad spend (ROAS) per campaign. As you can see, attribution has a huge impact, especially on an app’s marketing budget. 

Important news out of Apple recently outlined that iOS 14 coming later in 2020 will be deprecating the IDFA, the key element that the entire process of attribution depends on. The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) allows Apple to identify a device which advertisers use to track data and enables customized advertising to users. This means that the technology behind attribution will be changing very soon. 

Attribution and ASO

Mobile attribution is an important part of an overall ASO strategy. Via attribution, ASO teams can analyze which type of ad creatives engaged users and what messaging was within them to take these learnings and implement them elsewhere in the App Store and Google Play. For example, if attribution findings show that a significant volume of traffic comes from Snapchat ads and engages, retains and monetizes well, it’s possible to optimize an App Store product page to maximize conversion rates to that audience.

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    Related Terms

    • Cost per Install
      Cost per install (CPI) is the term that describes the pricing model of mobile user acquisition (UA) efforts to drive installations.
    • App Store Product Page
      The App Store product page is the landing page for a mobile app or game distributed and published on Apple’s App Store.
    • App Store Acquisition Channels
      App Store Acquisition Channels are all the potential channels that user acquisition (UA) teams can utilize, to advertise an app or game and generate more visitors.

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