Mobile App Terminology

Mobile app attribution

What is mobile app attribution?

Mobile attribution connects an app install with a marketing effort, like an ad or a marketing campaign. Marketers want to know when their advertising campaigns work, so they use mobile attribution providers like Singular to connect effects (app installs, events, and revenue) with causes (ad campaigns). The goal, of course, is to invest more in those causes that have more preferred impact: more and better mobile users.

Mobile attribution is changing significantly right now.

While in the past it has generally been about deterministically connecting an advertising identifier like the Apple IDFA or the Google GAID from an ad click to an app install, things are changing significantly on iOS, as Apple is essentially deprecating the IDFA. At the same time, Apple is telling app publishers that “fingerprinting,” a probabilistic attribution technology, is banned unless you have explicit permission from users. The future attribution technology on iOS will be run through SKAdNetwork, a deterministic framework for mobile app install attribution that is privacy-preserving. In other words, it is on the campaign level, and not the user level.

On Android, Google’s advertising ID, the GAID, is still available. So is fingerprinting, although it’s possible that things will change here too. Regardless of which technologies Apple and Google allow and enable, Singular will still be able to provide mobile attribution that helps marketers understand how their ad campaigns performed.

Great mobile attribution, however, is not focused on the past. It’s about the future. Ultimately, the goal of mobile attribution is not to tell you what happened, but to provide insights on what to do to make more of what you want to happen, actually happen.

Great mobile attribution measures cross-platform journeys, is customizable, and crucially, provides insights for marketing optimization.


Looking for a mobile app attribution solution?

Learn how Singular can help you level up your growth!

What are the mobile attribution models?

There are multiple attribution models, including:

  • First click attribution: First click means exactly what it says: the first click (or touch) gets credit for the attribution.
  • Last click attribution: Last click attribution is pretty simple again: the last click or touch gets credit for the conversion.
  • Multi-touch attribution: Marketers assign some value to all the touches a brand has with a consumer or user before conversion. Note that multi-touch attribution (MTA) is extremely helpful in seeing the entire user journey and that there are multiple varieties of multi-touch attribution, including the next two. Note also that multi-touch attribution is extremely uncommon in mobile attribution. Apple’s SKAdNetwork is last-click by design, although it also offers view-through attribution, and even on Android, last click is essentially industry standard. While it’s not multi-touch attribution in terms of tracking, methodologies such as incrementality aim to provide a holistic view of the impact of your marketing actions.
  • Linear attribution: In linear attribution, marketers assign equal value to every touch a brand has with a consumer or user (no matter how big or small).
  • Time-decay attribution: Here, marketers assign increasing value to recent touches and decreasing value to earlier touches.
  • View-through attribution: Much as the term suggestions, view-through attribution is attribution that is driven by people viewing an ad without actually clicking on it.

What are the uses of mobile attribution?

Accurate mobile attribution is one of the most important tools used by mobile marketers to ensure the sustainable growth of an app business. When it comes to user acquisition, the primary use case of mobile attribution for high-growth mobile marketers is to know exactly which ad creative, campaigns, and networks are delivering the most profitable results.

In other words, mobile attribution can be thought of as ad attribution: connecting an install to a user viewing or engaging with a specific ad from an ad network. By accurately measuring where installs are coming from, this allows marketers to intelligently scale their paid advertising campaigns. As discussed in our Guide to Mobile Attribution, attribution tools help marketers answer several key questions to optimize PPC performance, including:

  • Which ad creatives are driving the best performance?
  • Which bidding strategies are driving the highest ROAS?
  • Which ad networks and media sources are ROI-positive?

If you’re like most mobile marketers, you’re constantly testing new ad networks to expand your reach and improve the bottom line. For this reason, mobile marketers need an attribution tool with complete network coverage.

Looking for a mobile app attribution solution?

Learn how Singular can help you level up your growth!

How Singular uses mobile attribution?

As a leader in marketing analytics and mobile attribution, Singular is dedicated to helping app marketers’ with their single most important goal: profitable and scalable growth.

Segment highlights that the most important criteria for choosing the right attribution tool is the number of integrations it has. With Singular’s open integration framework, we offer 100% network coverage and thousands of attribution integrations. 

Unlike many legacy attribution tools, Singular goes beyond simply answering the question of where an install originated from. With our integration of both campaign and conversion data, Singular’s mobile attribution solution can also be customized to each businesses’ unique KPIs and connected to existing BI and backend tools. 

In particular, a few of the solutions that Singular’s mobile attribution providers marketers include:


In summary, Singular saves marketers time and money by automatically collecting campaign data alongside attribution data. Ultimately, this data provides marketers with the actionable insights they need to drive profitable growth at scale.

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