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[Update: Unfortunately, Facebook has informed us that Kelly Graziadei had a personal conflict and can not speak after all. We’ve replaced her with Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava, one of the leading Facebook measurement partners.]

[Update II: We’ve also added Assaf Vaknin, U.S general manager of Appsflyer, another leading third-party measurement partner.]

Facebook decision’s to stop sending advertisers device-level information about customers who click on ads promoting app installs, scheduled for Nov. 4, is likely to spark significant conversations among advertisers about how to respond.

The Facebook move, as VentureBeat first reported this morning, is significant because this device-level “attribution” information is considered critical information for big marketers of apps, particularly large game companies. These marketers use the information to perform calculations about the value of specific customers, which in turn lets them know how much they should pay to acquire them through advertising.


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The Facebook controversy is just a small part of the wider story about attribution, or how to assign the right credit to the right sources for driving your mobile growth. And that story is a huge one, since mobile advertising is expected to over take desktop ads next year, driving $100 billion in business. This theme of attribution will be a big part of the conversation at our MobileBeat event next week.

In an hour-long session titled “When and where is your story working,” we’ve invited a group experts to delve into questions about how to track what sources are working for you (is it Facebook, is it Twitter, or perhaps Google organic search?) what channels perform the best, and even what messaging is working to engage customers in the right way.

Speakers include the following:

  • Adam Marchick, the CEO of Kahuna, a company that offers a way to automate mobile marketing.
  • Kelly Graziadei, the director of global marketing solutions at Facebook.
  • Jason Morse, the vice president of Criteo, a company that helps performance marketers better target customers.
  • Juan Pablo Bedoya, the vice president of product at Lifelock, an identity-theft protection company.

The latest move by Facebook may have ramifications for the entire mobile economy because of how it impacts attribution.

Facebook is one of the largest mobile apps, and it drives a significant amount of business through its mobile advertising. Entire companies have grown up around Facebook’s ecosystem, including major game companies who use Facebook ads to pump up their audiences. Increasingly, that means companies look to Facebook for information about how to attribute what customers are coming to them from Facebook, and what customers are coming from other sources. But Facebook’s move on Nov. 4 is going to strip away a lot of that information from some key marketers, VentureBeat reported this morning.

Facebook has been busy working on a solution, privately reassuring publishers that its own analytics solutions will offer a way for publishers to get information that is a good proxy. However, some publishers have rejected the solution as insufficient, according to our reporting.

Another big question mark is what happens now to the companies that have built businesses around offering objective attribution information, such as Adjust, Apsalar, Appsflyer, and Kochava. This latest move by Facebook may hurt them, because it forces them to strip the device-level attribution data away from the info they send on to publishers who work with Facebook. At least one publisher we talked with said they would stop working with one of its attribution partners. And Facebook is offering its own analytics solution which allows publishers to layer on more sophisticated data like age and gender information. On the other hand, the move may help these third-party companies, because Facebook is only one source of many, and publishers and advertisers may seek them out more than ever, seeing Facebook as a biased measurement source.

It’s important to see things in perspective. Nineteenth-century marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

That’s clearly a thing of the past. Marketers can track their advertising spend and attribute each resulting sale or customer acquisition much more effectively online and on mobile than they ever could in print. In some cases, marketers can track to not merely the last click, but a chain of events that tells them exactly what channels deliver.

That said, as the Facebook case illustrates, we still don’t have perfect attribution; far from it. Users frequently use multiple devices, and this makes it extremely difficult for advertisers to track exactly which ads actually lead to a sale. If a mother sees an ad promoting a baby stroller on their Facebook mobile app, and then they go into Target to buy the stroller, how does Target know to credit Facebook? It doesn’t, though Facebook is working hard to change that.

All of these things will be talked about at MobileBeat.

The attribution session won’t be entirely focused on Facebook, of course.

Kelly Graziadei, as Facebook’s director of global marketing solutions, is just one of the speakers. She’s responsible for helping Facebook’s top clients and partners successfully leverage its platform to meet their marketing and business objectives.

But Kahuna’s Adam Marchik, Criteo’s Jason Morse, and Lifelocks’ Juan Pablo Bedoya will widen the conversation. They’ll talk about critical moments of a customer’s journey, and how those moments determine whether they’re receptive to a marketing message or not. At certain moments, they’ll be more prone to convert than at others.

The panel will also talk about how some advertisers should spend less time focused on just driving more customers into their funnel, and more time engaging customers they already having, with the right messaging to avoid churn. There’s an attribution component to this too. (Marchik recently wrote about his views for VentureBeat.)

Here are some other questions the session will address:

  • What are key insights to your user lifecycle?
  • When (how high up in the funnel) do you know if someone will convert / greatly extend lifetime value? (What actions eventually lead to a conversion or long-term adoption)
  • How do you map out the critical moments of your story?
  • What is the role of messaging in your user lifecycle?

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