Meta Install Referrer brings back view-through attribution on Android

By John Koetsier November 13, 2023

Meta is introducing a privacy-safe way to get back user-level click-through and user-level view-through attribution on Android for ads on Facebook or Instagram, the Meta Install Referrer

This significantly expands on the measurement possibilities already available via Google Play Install Referrer and is a big deal. For the first time in years, Android app advertisers will get view-through attribution back on Meta, providing additional details and data to build up a more accurate picture of the results of their campaigns.

Meta Install Referrer (MIR) is supported by Singular as of November 2023.

Here’s a quick comparison of the Google referrer versus the new Meta Install Referrer:

Google Play Install ReferrerMeta Install Referrer
PurposeAttribute Android installs via ads on MetaAttribute Android installs via ads on Meta
Use casesClick-throughClick-through
View-through (most scenarios)
Different session click-through
App storesGoogle PlayGoogle Play
Other Android app stores

Singular supports both the original Google install referrer and MIR, but because MIR includes all Google referrer use cases and adds more, Singular will prioritize using the Meta Install Referrer for user-level attribution decisions. 

It’s important to note that there are some caveats. View-through attribution is available via MIR when using:

  • Advantage+ App Campaigns
  • Broad Targeting Manual App Promotion Campaigns

The supported campaign configuration for Manual App Promotion Campaigns include:

  • Default age setting (18-65+)
  • All genders
  • Country or country group
  • Interest segments, behaviors, and demographics set to broad targeting
  • Custom audiences also set to broad

How the Meta Install Referrer works

Most people understand how the Google Play Install Referrer works, because it’s based on the concept of a click referrer on the web:

  1. User clicks on app ad on a Meta property
  2. Meta encrypts campaign metadata
  3. Meta appends it to the referrer parameter in the Play Store URL
  4. The Play Store URL brings the user to the app listing
  5. The Play Store saves the referrer string
  6. Singular’s SDK reads the referrer from the Play Install Referrer API
  7. Singular decrypts the data for install attribution

The Meta Install Referrer operates differently, but essentially achieves a similar purpose. At a very high level it works something like this:

  1. User views or clicks on an app ad on a Meta property (and then installs the app)
  2. Meta encrypts campaign metadata
  3. Meta saves the campaign metadata to local on-device storage in either the Facebook or Instagram app, wherever the ad was shown
  4. Singular’s SDK (for the installed app) reads the campaign metadata from local storage
  5. Singular decrypts the campaign metadata for install attribution
Google Play and Meta Install Referrer

Privacy and marketing attribution

The Meta Install Referrer is on-device attribution. 

When we looked at the design of MIR we were excited to see it does not need to rely on leveraging a Google Ad ID or other device identifier, nor on the need for transferring any device identifiers to a Meta or MMP server to make it work. As such, we believe it’s a much more privacy-friendly solution than existing GAID or IDFA-based solutions. Another way we think of it, the solution could be said to function pretty much like UTM parameters on a standard link on the web, even in view-through scenarios.

As such, it’s possible other major platforms could adopt similar mechanisms.

The result of this new methodology is that marketers will get a clearer picture of what ads, creative, and campaigns on Meta resulted in conversions, and they’ll be able to gauge the value of their investments better. 

Enabling MIR on your campaigns

Talk to your customer success contact about enabling MIR on your campaigns. If you’re not currently a Singular customer, here’s a good place to start.

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