Mobile App Terminology

Device ID

What is a device ID?

A device ID is a string of unique numbers and letters which is used to identify smartphones and tablets, and pretty much any other kind of electronic device. A device will typically have multiple device IDs that are used for different purposes. Some of the IDs stored on a smartphone or tablet can be seen and recorded by apps that are installed on the device: for example, the Google Ad ID. On iOS, the equivalent device ID is the IDFA, Identifier for Advertisers.

In some cases, device IDs are used by apps and mobile measurement partners (MMPs) in order to identify record attribution events, such as app installs or purchases.

A device ID does not contain any personal information about the owner of the smartphone or tablet. Instead, it is used to enable developers and marketers to measure the performance of their marketing campaigns by analyzing user actions on each device, without giving access to any personally identifiable information. 

Even though there’s no inherent connection between a device ID and the person who owns a particular device, persistent ongoing use of a phone can lead to fairly accurate identification of people, what they do, and where they are. That’s one of the reasons why there has still been a shift towards more user privacy recently. Most notably, Apple’s AppTrackingTransparnecy (ATT) has introduced the need for apps to gain explicit permission from users to access their device ID, and Google has declared its intention to sunset the GAID.

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What are the types of device IDs?

There are several different types and names of device IDs. For example, on iOS the device ID is referred to as the Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) and is composed of 8 digits followed by a dash and three sets of 4 digits. As mentioned, with the introduction of iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency, users can opt out of sharing their device ID with apps and advertisers. After an app is installed the user is prompted with an opt-in or opt-out prompt on an app-by-app basis.

The device ID on Android is referred to both as the Android Advertising ID (AAID), and the Google Ad ID (GAID), which can be accessed from the Settings menu. Here users can opt-out of sharing their device ID with advertisers, which means they will not receive any ad personalization. 

Users that have opted out of sharing this data are referred to as ‘Limited Ad Tracking’ users.

The main use case for advertising IDs is for advertisers to analyze and understand user behavior in order to show the right ads to the right people, and to and identify optimization opportunities. With this data, advertisers typically use a marketing analytics platform to improve the performance of their campaigns and increase the ROI of their marketing efforts. For example, with a device ID advertisers can track which users have seen their ads, which ad creatives they have seen, and whether or not they converted into an app install.

How does Singular use device ID?

As a leader in marketing analytics and mobile attribution, Singular works with various types of device IDs in order to attribute conversions and events. As highlighted in our support article on device IDs

The device ID can be passed in Singular Links to help the Singular tracker attribute an install. You can see the device ID when using Export Logs and User-Level Data. A user-resettable device ID on Android devices.

By working with various device IDs types, Singular enables marketers to take a scientific approach to their growth and expose optimization opportunities in order to increase their overall ROI. With timely, accurate and granular performance insights, Singular is committed to providing ROI insights at the most granular levels and across more media sources than any other solution.

As device IDs become more rare due to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency and Google’s sunsetting of the GAID, Singular is supporting Apple’s SKAdNetwork and Google’s Privacy Sandbox for Android, along with non-tracking methodologies such as media mix modeling, to enable effective attribution and marketing measurement.

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