Mobile App Terminology

Mobile app attribution

What is mobile attribution?


Mobile attribution connects app installs with marketing efforts, like an ad, a marketing campaign, or influencer marketing.

Marketers want to know when their advertising campaigns and marketing initiatives work, so they use mobile attribution providers like Singular to connect the effects they want, like app installs, app engagement, and revenue, with things that causes those effects, like ad campaigns.

The goal, of course, is to invest more in those causes that have more preferred impact: more and better mobile users. And when you know what works best, that goal is easier to achieve.

The challenge for mobile marketers is that mobile attribution is changing massively 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 changed on iOS when Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and essentially deprecated the IDFA. “Fingerprinting,” a probabilistic attribution technology, is banned as well, even if you have explicit permission to track from users via ATT. On iOS, attribution technology now operates via 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.

Privacy is coming to Android too.

While on Android, Google’s advertising ID (the GAID) is still available, Privacy Sandbox for Android is coming probably in early 2024. There’s still the Google referrer, which is helpful, but Privacy Sandbox will be essential for fully understanding mobile attribution on Android from 2024 and on.

The good news’s that regardless of the technology, Singular will still be able to provide mobile attribution that helps marketers understand how their ad campaigns performed. That’s via our deep integrations with Apple and Google, but also via MMM, media mix modeling or marketing mix modeling, which Singular now offers. MMM is a completely privacy-safe non-tracking probabilistic measurement methodology that helps marketers understand their impacts on a broad global level, and offers great insight into incrementality as well.

Great mobile attribution 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. Few people use this, but it can provide some insight.
  • Last click attribution: Last click attribution is pretty simple again: the last click or touch gets credit for the conversion. Apple’s SKAdNetwork is primarily a last-click attribution methodology, although you can some insight into view-through attribution and ads or views that preceded the last click.
  • 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. It’s also increasingly impossible given privacy moves by major online platforms. MMM can help: while it’s not multi-touch attribution in terms of tracking individual touchpoints, methodologies such as MMM and 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. Apple’s SKAN does support this.

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 their apps. 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. (Note: however, that organic growth that does not involve ads is extremely important, and can also be measured by a good mobile attribution provider such as Singular.) 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.

Another important point:

Increasingly, “mobile” attribution is just becoming attribution. Customers and users are on multiple platforms and channels, and while capturing their attention on mobile is important, app marketers are increasingly using the web, out-of-home, connected TV (CTV), and other channels to reach them.

Looking for a mobile app attribution solution?

Learn how Singular can help you level up your growth!

How Singular provides 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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