Mobile

4 things you need to know about mobile ad attribution

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Attribution, the process of figuring out if people are actually seeing your ads, is a key driver to success in mobile advertising.

While web-based cookies allow marketers to track performance on online channels such as online advertising, email marketing, and search engine marketing (SEM), mobile has lagged behind.

Because mobile apps don’t support cookies, tracking and attributing spend to revenue has proven difficult. However, the introduction of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) has changed the landscape and provided a way to attribute the revenue generated by mobile.


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The widespread adoption of user-controllable identifiers for advertisers by Apple and Google offers the opportunity for better tracking in mobile apps.

Here’s why:

  • Impressions and clicks are tracked to the mobile device, and a mobile device is more directly connected to a single user.
  • Apps can integrate a single tracking technology to handle advertising and conversions and to post conversion activity.
  • Integration of tracking into apps means better control and measurement of user interaction.
  • Mobile advertising systems offer insight into return on ad spend, average revenue per user and user lifetime value due to concise event tracking.

The upshot is that mobile apps have the power to track more events tied to a single user, and that means advertisers have a better picture of advertising performance.

How do you take advantage of the new mobile attribution landscape? Here are a few ways to start:

1.  Invest in mobile technology by developing apps and updating them regularly.

Without fail, marketers who optimize for this medium are winning over those who simply port their web experience to mobile. Brands on our platform see substantially higher repeat purchasing and cart values in their apps than they see on mobile web. Just converting a website to be mobile-optimized isn’t a complete mobile strategy.

2.  Choose a tracking & analytics platform.

Many viable tracking solutions are now available for mobile applications. There’s no reason to build your own custom analytics suite when there are several tracking and analytic vendors to choose from. These tools will help you integrate with marketing channels and then measure the performance of all your media spend.

3.  Leverage privacy-sensitive user IDs such as Apple IDFA and Google’s advertising ID for tracking.

This will allow you to track lifetime orders back to devices while still keeping consumer privacy intact.

4.  Be open to sharing transactional data with your mobile marketing platform, if they encourage it.

Many marketing companies optimize to cost per click (CPC) or cost per install (CPI). Ultimately, you should care about more than just installs. Down funnel metrics such as engagement, retention and monetization complete the picture and demonstrate an ongoing return on investment. By integrating with mobile marketing platforms that optimize campaigns to metrics like these, you can generate more success from your marketing spend.

By actively engaging customers on mobile with an app-centric perspective, you’ll be able to improve the mobile experience and refine your products for significantly higher consumer engagement. Top commerce and travel brands on our platform regularly see half their digital sales come from mobile. They can continue to invest and see even more growth because they can actually attribute those digital sales directly to mobile.

Adam Foroughi is the co-founder and CEO of AppLovin.

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1 comments
Greg Fitzgerald
Greg Fitzgerald

Would love a similar "check list" of advice on attribution in general-- specifically cross-channel.