Getting Google Play Referrer data on Android installs via Facebook

By Gadi Eliashiv October 20, 2021

Earlier this year I shared a clip from Inception that illustrates the change we’re experiencing in the mobile marketing ecosystem. Clearly we’re still in that reality.



But sometimes the changes are positive.


What’s happening: Facebook launching Install Referrer for Android app campaigns

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that they are deprecating their Advanced Mobile Measurement (AMM) program within their Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) integrations at the end of October 2021, such that advertisers will only get aggregate install measurement for Facebook app install campaigns from their MMPs.

While the impact on iOS (post iOS 14.5) is expected to be minimal since AMM data is not available today for iOS 14.5+ opted-out events (not all devices have IDFA anymore and are therefore not eligible for device-level attributions in AMM) — the impact on Android is expected to be greater. (We had a great webinar discussing the impact here).

Recently Facebook announced that following successful testing, they intend to leverage Google Play Store’s Install Referrer to bring back some of this data for Android.

How it will work technically:

  • You run an Android app ad on Facebook
  • A user clicks on the ad and is directed to the Google Play Store
  • Facebook appends secured campaign metadata to the click that gets passed to Google
  • If the user installs the app within the Google Play Store, the Install Referrer will pass that secured campaign metadata to the advertiser
  • Once the app is installed and opened, Singular can retrieve the secured metadata for clients and use it to retrieve information about which campaign directly led to the app install

(Note: this isn’t changing any attribution data flows, since the data Facebook provides MMPs will remain unchanged with the upcoming deprecation of AMM. Also note that as Facebook is still testing the use of Install Referrer, further clarity and more details will be provided as they move to a general roll out.)

To provide some insight, here is a quick FAQ style article about this, based on what we know so far.


Is this data set exactly like the old data set?

Sort of, but not exactly.

Clicks that did not lead directly to an app install will still be counted as attributions by Facebook and MMPs, but won’t be available in this data set.


What’s great about this change?

The first obvious win is that advertisers can get back much of the Facebook attribution data that is available to them via the AMM program which is being removed at the end of October 2021. This means that a lot of disruption to BI/internal analytics systems will be avoided … at least on Android.

This also opens the door for longer cohorts.

Facebook device-level attributions must be deleted after 180 days (we actually get audited for this). Google does not provide any clear retention requirements for Install Referrer data, which means we’ll be able to offer longer cohorts (e.g. 365-day) for app users.


Speculation: Why did FB make this change?

When we at Singular think about Google’s eventual privacy changes on Android, we predict that Google will:

  • Deprecate the GAID, giving a huge boost to privacy by killing device graphs and data collectives and retargeting
  • Keep the Install Play Referrer mechanism, enabling advertising and measurement without trading persistent device identifiers

In my opinion, Facebook is thinking the same – and they are preparing for the eventual GAID deprecation.

Another point of view that we discussed internally at Singular is that Facebook is basically adhering to the privacy-preserving mechanisms each platform offers:

  • ATT on iOS 14.5+
  • Google Play Referral on Android


How will that work with my Singular/MMP setup?

Since we’re already collecting Google Play Referral data (it’s a widely used mechanism with other ad networks), we’ll pass back the information to advertisers with the same data pipelines we had before the AMM change. This is great news for advertisers since there will be no additional work required to receive the same data sets.

This probably won’t change how we do attribution however, since MMPs like Singular will continue to have the same data access from Facebook, which provides a more accurate and complete representation of the Facebook attribution claims, including:

  • Impressions and impression based attributions
  • All clicks, and installs derived from these clicks based on the attribution windows

The other change to look out for is the possible capability to measure longer cohorts and true LTV on Android users acquired from Facebook. We’ll have to intelligently combine the full data set we get from the MMP endpoints – which has certain retention rules – with the data provided on the Referral Mechanism, which might have different retention rules.

(Since this is still TBD, I’ll refrain from making any promises just yet!)



While we live in very turbulent times, and there’s a lot of changes, I believe this is a very positive change by Facebook.

At this point I’d like to extend my promise to our wonderful customers and the industry as a whole that we’ll continue to help being your measurement partner across all your ad networks and marketing channels, aggregating insights from multiple different sources and multiple different datasets to provide you with a single source of truth.

That includes spend data, self-reported platform performance data, deterministic device-level attributed data, deterministic aggregated data like that from SKAdNetwork, probabilistic aggregated data for cohorts and media mixes and incrementality, referrer data, and more.

Referring back to the GIF I posted at the beginning of this article, I’d like to think that we’re your gravity boots. We’ll strive to provide stability, continuity, and education on industry changes like this one … so you can quickly catch up and stay ahead!

Until next time!

– Gadi

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