Install Referrer: What you need to know

By Kelsey Lee November 11, 2021

Google’s Install Referrer mechanism isn’t new to the industry, so why are we all interested in it now?

With the deprecation of Facebook’s Advanced Mobile Measurement program (AMM), Facebook has opted to support the Google Install Referrer mechanism as a measurement option for Facebook Android app install campaigns. By leveraging Facebook’s support of the install referrer, Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) will be able to continue to provide marketers with user-level Android data.

This meant marketers needed their MMP to support Facebook’s Install Referrer solution as soon as the deprecation happened. Singular was ready and supported the solution prior to the deprecation and release of the install referrer solution on Friday, Oct 29th.

Since Facebook’s Install Referrer solution went live, there have been a lot of questions floating around. Lucky for you we’ve rounded them up and answered them below!

What is a Google Install Referrer and how does it work?

  • The Google Install Referrer is an Android-specific measurement technology that attributes clicks on Google Play Store app pages to the correlating app download.
  • Google’s Install Referrer framework sends an install referrer (or unique code string) to the Google Play store when an ad click has occurred.
  • Once the advertised app is installed, the MMP receives the install referrer value which can be matched to the original referrer sent during the ad click.

Facebook’s Google Play Install Referrer User Flow:

1. A user clicks on an ad and is directed to the Google Play Store.

2. Facebook appends secured campaign metadata to the click url (known as the Referrer URL).

3. The user installs and opens the app.

4. The Facebook Referrer URL along with additional content from the Google Play Store are added to the install referrer.

5. Singular’s SDK will pass the FB Referrer URL to Singular’s servers and decrypts it using the advertiser-provided Facebook decryption key.

6. Singular ingests the FB Referrer URL for reporting to advertisers who can use the Singular ETL or leverage Singular’s real-time BI postbacks.

Install Referrer: What you need to know

Is there support for iOS?

  • No, iOS does not have an equivalent to the Google Install Referrer mechanism.
  • User-level data for iOS will still be restricted due to the deprecation of Facebook’s AMM program. While MMP’s will still have full access to Facebook’s iOS user-level attribution data, they will not be permitted to share this data with marketers or other 3rd party vendors.
  • Since iOS 14.5’s release, SKAdNetwork remains the primary attribution method for devices that have not provided consent for device-level (IDFA-based) attribution.

(Read more about Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy)

When is Google Install Referrer Applicable for Attribution?

  • Install attribution only (not applicable for re-engagement attribution)
  • Click-through attribution only (not applicable for view-through attribution)
  • Google Play store redirection only (not applicable for 3rd Party app stores, nor campaigns redirecting to landing pages)

Additionally, a referrer is not available in user-journeys where a download did not immediately follow the redirect to the Google Play Store. For example:

  •  The user had already downloaded the app, and was then served a Facebook ad click that redirects to the Google Play Store.
  • Facebook served an ad click to the Google Play Store, but the user didn’t download. Later, the user returns to the Google Play Store (organic search or paid) and then downloads the app.

When will GAID vs. Install Referrer attribution be used?

  • Singular prioritizes the install referrer to measure attributions. If the install referrer is not available or loses due to last-click methodology to a Facebook self-attributed conversion, Singular uses the self-attributing claim. This maximizes the available user-level insights but also ensures Singular’s aggregate Facebook campaign reporting is complete.

How accurate is the Google Install Referrer mechanism?

  • The Google Install Referrer is Singular’s most accurate tool to determine attribution when available, as it is deterministic and directly through the Google Play Store.

How is Singular Helping?

Singular ensured marketers had a solution that automatically collects and decrypts Facebook’s attribution data and mitigates user-level data loss from day one.

Marketers can continue to receive Android click-through install data at the user level through your internal BI postbacks and/or the Singular ETL. All aggregate Facebook campaign data, referrer, and self attributing data will continue to be reported in Singular’s dashboard, ETL, and reporting API.

The Singular and Facebook Install Referrer integration supports all of your data needs for Android Facebook campaigns. But the Google Install Referrer mechanism also powers strong attribution capabilities for all of your marketing partners.

Still have questions about how these changes will impact your app marketing? Talk to one of our experts today.

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