Mobile App Terminology

Install referrer

What is a Google Play install referrer?

A Google Play install referrer is a string of numbers that is used to measure mobile app install ad performance on Android devices. If you’re a web marketer, think of it like UTM parameters for mobile app installs. Also known as a Google install referrer, install referrers allow marketers to attribute their advertising activity for Google Play Store apps. In short, the install referrer enables attribution providers to send specific parameters to the Google Play Store when a user clicks on an ad and installs an app. After this occurs, the result is then passed back to the MMP’s SDK after the app has been downloaded and installed.

Marketers can get data such as:

  • The referrer URL of the installed app
  • The timestamp of when a referrer click happened
  • The timestamp of when an installation began
  • The app’s version

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What are the uses of install referrers?

Install referrers are used by attribution providers and marketers as they’re one of the most accurate ways to measure user engagement from ads on Android devices along with GAID matching. With this and other data from MMPs, marketers can make more data-driven decisions in regards to their advertising and allocate more budget to their most profitable ads.

In addition to providing advertisers with highly accurate attribution data, another key use case for install refers is reducing the ability for mobile fraud to occur. Specifically, it reduces the ability for fraudsters to carry out common types of mobile fraud such as install hijacking. Since the Google Play install referrer contains data on both when a click happened and an install happened, MMPs like Singular can detect fraudulent install claims that don’t match those timeframes. 

In short, the install referrer allows marketers to both accurately understand the performance of their ads and also know that the install they’re getting are coming from real users.

How Singular facilitates the use of install referrers?

As a leader in mobile attribution, Singular uses the install referrer to provide accurate ad engagement and attribution insights. As highlighted in our Help Center article on understanding mobile app attribution data:

This method, when available, offers the highest possible level of reliability. When a user clicks on an ad and reaches the Google Play store, a unique Singular referral ID is passed to Google Play. After the user installs the app and opens it, the Singular SDK passes on the referral ID to the Singular server, and Singular can use it to perform attribution. 

In summary, the install referrer is used by marketers as one component of the data that helps them accurately attribute the performance of their advertising. With this information in hand, they’re able to improve performance by allocating more advertising budget to the ads and campaigns that are driving the highest ROI overall.

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