Mobile App Terminology

Cross device attribution

What is cross device attribution?

Cross-device attribution is similar to cross-platform tracking. The reality is that users and devices — or customers and devices — are not synonymous. A customer for a retailer or a user in a mobile game might use a phone and a tablet, or a phone and a web browser on their laptop.

To understand the customer or user journey you need to be able to match up users or customers across devices, especially when you have ad spend on one platform and installs or activity on another device.  In short, cross-device attribution lets marketers measure the contribution of each campaign and touchpoint that leads to an eventual conversion, regardless of which platform or device is used to get there.

What are the uses of cross-device attribution?

One of the main use cases for cross-device attribution is to accurately measure and report on the ROI of marketing efforts. In the context of paid advertising, this means accurately determining the ROAS of each campaign. This information is then used to optimize and maximize the ROI of marketing efforts.

As the mobile advertising company InMobi highlights, a typical custom journey is highly segmented and requires cross-device attribution:

What often happens is that someone may first see mobile ads (possible even through various mobile apps or even on different mobile devices) but then later take additional steps on their conversion path on a tablet before finally completing a conversion on a laptop.

In addition to tracking and attributing customer actions across multiple devices, many marketers also have multiple campaigns for each stage of the funnel that need correct attribution. For example, many companies will have a top-of-funnel campaign to drive awareness, a middle-of-funnel campaign to drive a specific action, and a retargeting campaign to remind people to complete their purchase, install, or other type of conversion.

If a user interacts with each of these campaigns through their customer journey, cross-device attribution lets you capture each touchpoint regardless of the device being used. Since many companies often use multiple ad platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads in conjunction, this requires a third-party mobile attribution partner for an accurate and complete view of the campaign’s effectiveness and ROI.


How Singular facilitates cross-device attribution?

Singular’s attribution system distinguishes between device attribution and user attribution and tracks them in parallel. As a marketer, you can see how many new devices your mobile campaign touched, while also tracking how many new users or customers your campaigns attracted.

By implementing an API call to the Singular SDK or server with a user ID, Singular helps you sync up users and devices in such a way that you can recognize customers or users and properly attribute conversions to ad spend and marketing activity, plus assign customers or users to cohorts, regardless of which device or platform they’re using at any given moment. (Note: this may not be 100% available on iOS, where user and device-level marketing measurement is no longer possible in iOS 14.5.)

As discussed in our help center article on cross-device attribution:

As a marketer you can see how many new devices your mobile campaign yielded, while also tracking how many new users these ended up producing. Both measurements are valuable as these users will continue to interact with your product across every device they own.

In the context of cross-device attribution, Singular helps marketers optimize campaigns and improve the ROI of their marketing efforts in three main ways:

  • Marketing analytics: With a unified marketing analytics platform, mobile-first businesses are able to take a scientific approach to growth and discover new opportunities to optimize campaigns with granular ROI insights. 
  • Cost aggregation: By collecting, standardarding, and unifying cost data across multiple platforms, marketers can quickly analyze their advertising expenses through data visualization and efficient reporting. In addition to cost data, other marketing data such as creative, bids, and ad monetization data can be aggregated and analyzed.
  • Mobile attribution: Finally, the platform facilitates growth by combining attribution with cost aggregation in order to track and analyze the entire customer lifecycle at the most granular level possible. With a holistic view of ROI and campaign performance, this enables businesses to analyze the impact of their marketing spend across every channel and platform.

In summary, since the customer lifecycle is often a highly segmented journey across various platforms and devices, cross-device attribution helps businesses analyze and improve their campaign performance and ROI.

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