Mobile App Terminology

Attribution window

What is an attribution window?

An attribution window is a time frame within which a marketing attribution provider looks for install or conversion triggers like ad clicks or views. Attribution windows can be configurable, but are often seven days, meaning that a click two months ago falls outside of the attribution window and is not considered a definitive touchpoint that led to an app install or other kinds of marketing conversion.

If no ad clicks are found inside the attribution window, the install is considered organic: it happened through a user’s own initiative and not via a direct result of an ad.

Marketers set an attribution window because not all ad clicks that have intent result in an immediate conversion. Sometimes users get interrupted or disrupted and only complete an app install or purchase later.

What are the uses of attribution windows?

While there’s no one right attribution window for marketers, the appropriate length will depend on the campaign’s objective. For example, if the advertiser is using display ads for retargeting purposes, they may consider a shorter attribution window. The reason is that it’s unlikely this banner ad is the driver for a conversion more than a few days later. If, on the other hand, the advertiser has a longer sales cycle, for example for subscription-based SaaS companies, they may choose an attribution window of 21 or 30 days.

Advertisers can also choose to set different attribution windows for each type of conversion. For example, they may want a shorter attribution window for an email signup or app install and a longer window for a purchase. Similarly, advertisers may choose to set different attribution windows depending on the ad network they’re using. If an advertiser is testing a new ad network, they may want to test the performance on a shorter time period, for example 24 hours, to see how effective the network is at driving immediate conversions. As Martech Advisor highlights: 

Changing the attribution window has a direct impact on the conversion rate (CR) seen on the publisher’s end. CR is an important factor that publishers consider when they do their traffic allocation, as it determines how many installs a publisher would generate from a set amount of clicks. Publishers usually allocate less traffic to campaigns with a short attribution window, which is an important factor for marketers to consider.

Regardless of the length of attribution window chosen, advertisers need to ensure their measurement and reporting of conversions is timely and accurate.

How Singular uses attribution windows?

Mobile measurement partners like Singular use last-click attribution by default, but can also analyze assisting or earlier clicks.

Attribution windows can be set for both view-through and click-through conversions. It’s worth noting that Apple’s new SKAdNetwork framework in iOS 14 uses only the last click for mobile attribution and conversions, and does not include any insights on clicks or activities that may have happened as a result of seen-but-not-clicked-on ads. As highlighted in our guide to mobile app install attribution:

Without a third-party attribution platform, it would be impossible for marketers to understand which program and partner drove an install. Further, attribution partners ensure that an install is credited only once. This is so that an app publisher doesn’t double-pay or triple-pay multiple vendors for the same install.

In order to improve marketing analytics for advertisers, Singular provides advanced attribution tools, including:

In summary, Singular provides the tools that advertisers need to go beyond traditional attribution tools and optimize the ROI of their marketing campaigns with end-to-end analytics.

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