Glossary
Mobile App Terminology

Mobile attribution


What is mobile attribution?

Mobile attribution is connecting 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 investing 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, 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 ad ID, the GAID, is still available, as is fingerprinting.

Great mobile attribution, however, is not about 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, happen.

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

Attribution models

There are multiple attribution models, including these:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

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