Mobile Attribution Report

7 things your mobile attribution platform doesn’t do (but should)


mobile attribution platform

App marketers’ first and most important goal is profitable growth. Knowing where an app install came from is great, but it’s only part of a full mobile attribution platform.

How do you grow? Start by demanding much more from your mobile app attribution solution.

Beyond legacy attribution: it’s more than an install

Worst of all, basic mobile app attribution solutions were meant to answer one simple question: where did my install originate from?

Today’s marketers have so many more questions of their attribution tool:

  • What are my top and worst-performing creatives? 
  • What was my best bidding strategy? 
  • What is the actual return on each conversion? 
  • What are my most ROI-positive media sources?

Those don’t sound like tradition app attribution questions, do they?

It’s impossible to get all of this from a legacy attribution tool. Answering these questions requires a complex integration of campaign data with conversion data at the core of your marketing growth stack. Plus, you need it to be customized to your business and it’s unique KPIs. And to integrate easily with your BI systems and backend tools.

In short, you need a mobile attribution solution that can:

  • Track and measure your unique KPIs across acquisition and re-engagement
  • Account for cross-platform interactions and attributes against non-mobile
  • Create deep links and deferred deep links that provide seamless user experiences and accurate tracking
  • Accurately aggregate cost and other campaign data across sources and channels
  • Automatically combine attribution data with campaign data to uncover accurate, granular, timely and actionable insights that drive growth
  • Enable easy analysis of which sources, campaigns, bidding strategies, and creatives drive the best or worst return on investment (ROI)
  • Deterministically and proactively fight mobile ad fraud

Singular - Unified Marketing Data

So with that said, we want to provide you with a comprehensive guide to build your advanced mobile attribution platform RFP.

So let’s get the basics out of the way …

100% attribution network coverage + full MMP status

It’s probably a given that you’re advertising with one or more of the major ad platforms, like Facebook or Google AdWords. So step #1 for picking a mobile attribution tool is ensuring that they’re certified to work with all of the big players. 

Partner - Twiiter, Apple Search Ads, Facebook, Google Partner, Snap, Pinterest

But if you’re like most marketers, you’re constantly looking to test new ad networks and channels to extend your reach. And you obviously still need to measure and analyze the campaigns you’re running with those mid-tail or long-tail networks. That’s why you need 100% network coverage. 

Luckily, you can check both boxes with us since we’re an official app attribution Measurement Partner for every major platform. And thanks to our open integration framework, we have thousands of attribution integrations with all the other ad networks. We also have direct integrations for your marketing campaign data on these networks, so we can collect all your costs automatically and combine that data with your install data to uncover performance metrics, like ROI, at the most granular levels, such as creative. 

Flexible attribution methodology: eliminating costly false positives

App attribution providers do two major things that are often intertwined: tracking and billing. They have to provide accurate, de-duped tracking across both paid and organic sources. Plus, for most media sources that are not self-attributing networks, they’re also playing a critical role in determining billing.

That happens, of course, via postbacks. But there’s a significant danger here: rigid and incorrect configurations can result in inaccurate attribution, which results in inflated costs as well as skewed reporting. 

Just one example: view-through attribution. 

A badly-configured campaign with a lookback window that is too long can easily over-attribute credit to ad networks. That’s also true for fingerprinting windows, which advertisers often like to limit to reduce noise. And we see it in retargeting, which has a variety of windows that need to be set, typically at the campaign level.

Attribution windows — and attribution models — play a pivotal role in determining correct attribution, so they have a direct impact on your tracking and reporting, plus the credit every campaign is given. This is probably one of the most common areas in attribution configuration that is often overlooked, and flexibility is key.

Singular provides you with all the knobs to fine-tune your attribution methodology to your unique app and campaign objectives. We allow you to easily set default attribution configurations at the source level, as well as fine-tune configurations at the campaign level. Running an awareness video campaign? Leverage view-through attribution. Running a click-to-install campaign? Leverage our click-through attribution. Running re-engagement campaigns? Configure an inactivity window so you’re only paying to re-engage users who were truly inactive.

Security and privacy: built-in by design

Today’s attribution providers have to maintain a critical set of design principles and methodologies for building, testing and auditing every single part of the platform to maximize data security. While there is no silver bullet in security, prioritizing security when building products, together with comprehensive security knowledge and organization-wide awareness can minimize the chances for a breach. 

Serving the world’s top advertisers, and with our engineering team composed of cyber security veterans, we are more than equipped to secure your most sensitive data. To date, Singular has never had a security breach and with GDPR in place, your attribution provider now has the regulatory requirement report on any security incident within 72 hours from the time of breach.

Authentication is also of vital importance: your attribution solution must support two-factor authentication, single-sign on, and strong passwords to ensure your marketing data stays private.

Security experts agree that periodic audits and penetration testing by respectable parties is another great tool to evaluate how secure your attribution solution is with handling your data. You have the right to see these proofs, and an honest vendor will be happy to show them to you.

Privacy, although often coupled with security, is a requirement on its own. Here, there are several important factors to consider around privacy:

  • Regulatory compliance
    Everyone claims they comply, but Singular goes the extra mile. We comply with GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, and other standards. And we enable privacy-related requests such as Right of Erasure and Right of Access programmatically through a set of API endpoints. That’s scalable privacy.
  • Respecting your users’ privacy is critical
    You need to protect your users’ privacy at all costs. That includes SDK-based methods to cease tracking for under age users or users who did not consent, to never, ever mixing your user data with other datasets. Hint: if your attribution provider is touting people-based attribution as a core feature, you have to ensure that no generally-available device or users graph is being enriched at your and your users’ expense.

Now that those basics are out of the way, let’s dive into the good stuff: here are the 7 things your mobile attribution vendor should do, but doesn’t … unless you’re using Singular!

#1: A mobile attribution platform that makes marketing data simple

With more sources, more data, and more tools than ever before, the data explosion has made marketing data anything but simple. 

Singular helps you tame the chaos.

Automatic collection and combining of your most important datasets

You have questions. Your mobile attribution and marketing analytics tool should have answers. 

But if you’re stuck in Excel trying to aggregate campaign data from multiple ad networks and combine it with conversions and events, you’re not only drowning in tedious data transformation tasks, but your conclusions will inevitably be inaccurate. No matter how analytical a marketer is, they’re not typically data engineers.

Standardization of campaign data

Marketing data doesn’t match on a multitude of levels. First, every ad network or publisher structures their campaign reporting and nomenclature differently. There is no standard across them, making it difficult to aggregate and normalize campaign data to get a side-by-side view of performance across ad partners. 

But even more challenging is trying to unify this upper-funnel campaign data with lower-funnel attribution data. Campaign data is reported in aggregate, while conversion data is reported on the user-level. It needs to be standardized, merged and enriched to provide actionable insights.

Marketing Data, Attribution Data

Matter of fact, combining your campaign data with your attribution data to understand ROI is one of the most daunting challenges for today’s marketers. If you’re not able to join your campaign data and attribution data you end up with inaccurate, unhelpful, meaningless performance data. It means optimizing on vanity metrics like CTR instead of growth-oriented metrics like ROI. 

The solution is standardized and normalized data in the top funnel that is completely aligned with standardized and normalized data from the bottom-funnel across all your ad partners. Now marketers can achieve comprehensive ROI reporting at all dimensions of their data … without an army of fully-dedicated data engineers.

Campaign data, Attribution data

Singular automatically combines your campaign data with attribution data to expose accurate, timely and actionable insights marketers need to drive growth at scale. We ensure that your data is perfectly aligned at every dimension, fill in missing data, and identify discrepancies between what ad networks report and attribution conversions. Now you can compare apples to apples. And oranges to oranges.

“We were not able to get ROI at a very granular level before we started working with Singular. Now, thanks to Singular, our front-end data gets automatically joined with our backend data, exposing ROI on a publisher, creative, campaign and partner level.”

— Nebojsa Radovic, Director of User Acquisition @ N3TWORK

A mobile attribution platform provides standardization with data governance

At the core of unifying different data sets is data governance, what we internally at Singular refer to as the glue of unified marketing data.

Connecting campaigns and conversions is impossible without strict data governance: campaign naming conventions, tracking link conventions, and standardized taxonomies. At the most basic level, you’ll need your reporting fields (campaign attributes like creative ID) to match up with your tracking links macros (component added to a tracking link).

But creating a data governance playbook, and ensuring everyone sticks to it can be a challenge. Even if you’ve figured out a schema that is going to tie together campaign data and attribution data at the most granular levels, there will inevitably be human error, either in the naming of new campaigns or in generating a new tracking link, and that will break your ability to match data and analyze that specific campaign.

Singular customers offload the stress of defining and enforcing data governance to us and gain peace of mind from knowing their data is accurate, timely and actionable. Our easy-to-use Link Generator ensures that your cost data and attribution data align for each of your sources, every single time.

Standardization with data governance

#2: A mobile attribution platform that unlocks comprehensive analytics

You’re running analytics to identify pockets of profitable growth — and areas of potential waste. That’s precisely what Singular has been built to do: faster, easier, and more accurately.

Unrivaled ROI & performance analytics

Reporting global marketing performance is table stakes for a mobile attribution platform, right? 

Except when you can see a snapshot of all your data at once, across all your apps, then drill down into deeper granularity with a single click … and customize that drill-down by a dimension you can choose. And that’s just the beginning with our unrivaled Performance Analytics.

“Singular has been the key to uncovering ROI across our entire customer journey, which powers us to intelligently grow our business. By utilizing Singular’s attribution as part of its larger platform to unify the data across our entire marketing stack, we’ve gained access to unrivaled granularity to optimize against.”

– Kasim Zorlu, VP Performance Marketing, Rovio

Visualize creative ad assets side-by-side with metrics 

Knowing which ads perform is great. Knowing why is much more powerful. 

The best creative drives 11X more growth than average creative, so it’s critical to analyze and optimize your creative strategy. But creative optimization, as impactful as it can be to performance, is not a walk in the park. A brand may have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of different ad creative variations live at any given time. Because of this, it’s commonplace for marketers to limit their creative analysis to answering basic questions like what are the top ten and bottom ten performing creatives.

The solution is a creative optimization suite that ingests all your ad creatives from all your ad networks and surfaces with KPIs in a dashboard. Now you can see each asset and its performance, uncovering endless optimization opportunities.

That’s exactly what Singular’s Creative Analytics provides. Ad assets both video or static, and their performance, side-by-side. 

Want to understand how a given creative is performing across different campaigns and ad partners? Singular’s Creative Clustering uses image recognition technology to automatically group similar ads across ad sets and ad partners. That means you know which creative is driving what results across your entire marketing program, making you smarter and helping you achieve higher ROI and conversion rates.

Creative Reporting

“Having all of the data, especially creative data, plus images, plus the data behind the creative, in one dashboard is extremely valuable for us.”

 — Brian Sapp, VP of (User Acquisition Marketing at Jam City

A holistic view of your ad monetization program

In-app purchases are great. But they’re probably not 100% of your revenue. 

Depending on your app, you might make more money from allowing other brands to show their ads in your app. However, if you can’t account for ad revenue, you don’t know your true ROI on user acquisition. And you’re guessing at your actual LTV. That’s why it’s critical to find a mobile attribution provider who has the ability to ingest ad revenue as well as in-app purchases and account for both in your ROI formulas.

Singular’s Ad Monetization Analytics closes the loop on monetization and marketing, allowing you to ingest data across your monetization partners and account for ad revenue in your overall ROI formula. 

Ad Monetization Report

With the ability to see the true ROI figures, user acquisition managers will be able to make better decisions about the actual performance of their campaigns and channels and scale their marketing efforts efficiently and more intelligently. Channels and campaigns that you thought had low ROI could look completely different once you see how ad revenue factors in. 

You can even build look-alike audiences based on your most profitable ad whales … not just in-app purchases.

#3: A mobile attribution platform that is tailored to your unique business

If your app was exactly like Netflix, you could use a similar analytics set-up. But your app isn’t. It’s unique. And the KPIs you need to hit are too. So your mobile measurement analytics platform needs to be customized to what you do …  and report on the KPIs that matter to you. 

If your mobile attribution platform cannot display the KPIs that matter — how about “Cost to first purchase” against every campaign on every network — that’s something you’ll end up doing manually. Or you’ll waste precious BI time to achieve this level of reporting. (Oh, and if you have to do that … you no longer have a single source of truth for marketing data.)

Tailored attribution mobile attribution platform

Custom Dimensions: group data by dimensions that matter

Singular enables you to dictate data views that matter to you. Organize your analytics by geo, channel, date, UA manager, or whatever dimension your heart desires — up to 70 different rules per custom dimension. All you need to use is simple AND and OR operators.

Dashboard - UA Manager

The good news: anyone can do it, not just your BI team or a growth engineer. The even better news: create a dimension once, and it’s available forever, right in your dashboard.

“As an on-demand food platform with unique geographic markets, it’s critical for us to be able to break out our views by different cities and custom market definitions. Previously, we’d spend many hours each week manually breaking out reporting. With Singular’s Custom Dimensions, we’ve automated this process fully and are able to create completely custom reports that meet our specific analytical needs.”

— Andy Wells, Head of Customer Acquisition for DoorDash

Your imagination is the limit: You can build strategy dimensions or objective dimensions. One example is bundling up all your re-engagement campaigns in order to compare their ROI, clickthrough rate, or conversion rate to prospecting or branding campaigns.

“With Custom Dimensions, we’re able to report by parameters that matter … such as custom geographic regions, languages and business units. We’re even able to see creative performance broken down by different stages in the funnel, enabling precise optimizations to maximize results.”

— Paul Bloom, Senior Account Manager at 3Q Digital

You don’t have an app just like everyone else. Your attribution analytics should be just as customizable. 

Custom metrics: apply calculations for meaningful reporting

An install is an install is an install. But a valuable post-install engagement event is probably much more important to you. 

You don’t need generic metrics — you need actionable reporting on dimensions that matter to you. That means analytics that adapts to you, your unique app, and your unique business. Creating custom metrics about how much it costs to achieve that — and other things that matter — should be available by default from your attribution provider.

And your mobile attribution platform should make it easy for you.

Custom metrics: apply calculations for meaningful reporting

Maybe you need to map multiple events to a single metric. Maybe you want to have a single name for similar concepts across your entire app portfolio, like first purchase or a user quality indicator. Or maybe you just wanted a calculated custom metric, like Cost per First Purchase.

That’s why Singular lets you customize reporting not just by raw metrics but by calculated metrics that you can set up once and use forever, saving your BI team tens of hours weekly. If your team doesn’t love you today, they will soon.

Custom events: see which campaigns delivered results

Need to report on custom events globally across your entire app portfolio? Or just custom events in one app? Then you need the ability to create custom events that map to how your app works.

Custom events: see which campaigns delivered results

Singular lets you define custom events which appear in your query options, allowing you to see cost and performance data for those custom events and slice and dice by dimensions that matter to you. Events that are auto-tracked and do not require custom event creation include installs, session starts, revenue events, uninstalls, and reinstalls.

User roles: built for your data’s protection

You want everyone on the same page. But you don’t want to let Frank in Accounting delete cohorts, mess with data sources, or fiddle with SDK keys. That’s why it’s important to work with an attribution provider that will let you dictate different user roles with varying levels of access.

Singular offers distinct user roles with simple team management that’s built for scale. Admins need to be able to do everything: that’s you. Standard users can access all the data, but can’t add new people or configure their roles. And Restricted users can only see the apps, sources, metrics, and platform pages (i.e. Creative Report vs. Fraud Rejected Report) that you want them to.

Dashboard Team Management

Full accessibility to your data

Having complete accessibility to your data should be given because it’s your data. And your data is your special sauce for modern marketing success. But a lot of mobile attribution providers will actually charge you extra to access your data the way that makes sense for you. For example, some attribution providers offer an API to ingest your attribution data into other systems, like your internal BI, but will charge you to access that API.


Our customers can access their data in whichever way suits their needs, with no extra cost like the other guys. We offer four simple options for piping back aggregated, standardized, and enriched data from Singular to wherever you’d like:

  • Postbacks – Real-time postbacks to your BI in JSON via HTTPS
  • API – Performance, creative, cohorts, filtering, and more
  • Exports – Configurable, ad hoc device-level export queries
  • Amazon S3 – Scheduled exports dropped securely into an S3 bucket

We’ll store user-level attributions indefinitely, and exports for 90 days by default. GDPR matters, so we also offer the GDPR Erasure API to delete data for specific users.

#4: A mobile attribution platform that connects cross-platform journeys

Users are seeing and engaging with your ads and campaigns across multiple platforms. Can you track every interaction — and platform transition — to the same customer? And, are you able to measure how much revenue your web ad spend has generated on mobile?

The user journey can be complicated. Cross-device measurement is complex.

mobile attribution platform and cross-device measurement

You have millions of people viewing and clicking multiple ads in multiple marketing channels. They’re discovering you on social media. They’re interacting with emails and other non-paid campaigns, using your apps organically, and making purchases across desktop, mobile web, and mobile apps. And some see you right on the App Store or Google Play.

This is even more challenging when you add in retargeting campaigns.

Singular attribution can help you connect mobile revenue to web spend. Your attribution should show you what every dollar on every platform is driving, and how every campaign is involved in the final outcome. This is what cross-device attribution should solve.

“Being able to measure marketing performance and ROI across platforms and devices with Singular is valuable for Lyft. This ability enables us to intelligently optimize our marketing efforts and grow our business.”

— Sherry Lin, Growth Marketing Operations Lead, Lyft

You may also work with an MTA vendor or have built multi-touch attribution in-house. Whatever the situation, MTA models need all touchpoints, and Singular can provide them.

Multi-channel attribution is important. Ultimately, cross-device attribution requires three layers of capability, all of which Singular offers:

  • Data
    Tracking all touchpoints and transitions
  • Experience
    Using the right technologies to give users a great experience via iOS Universal Links, Android App Links, plus of course deep links and deferred deep links
  • Reporting
    Accounting for every platform and every media source to create full visibility into your multi-dimensional marketing funnel

Singular customers are able to keep up with users across their customer journeys to understand the impact of your marketing efforts. We’re able to connect marketing spend data across all channels, even non-digital, to conversion results across devices and platforms. We track and measure outcomes from marketing campaigns, no matter the source. And we offer mobile deep linking to take users from wherever they are to wherever they need to be.

That means we see a click on a mobile ad, measure it as one of multiple important data points in an ad campaign, and perform attribution tracking even to desktop conversions. And, of course, vice versa.

#5: A mobile attribution platform that prevents more fraud, deterministically and proactively

All MMPs have fraud prevention, mostly because (almost) all ad campaigns have fraud.

But not all fraud prevention is equal, and there are large variances in the amount of fraud that these solutions can prevent. 

There are even some attribution providers that offer “detect-only solutions,” meaning your attribution provider will still give credit to the fraudsters and make you do the work to get your money back from the ad networks. Others charge per paid installs, which creates a level of conflict in also offering strong, automatic solutions that proactively block fraud before attribution (and payment!).

These are not ideal for mobile app analytics or mobile app attribution.

A mobile attribution platform needs deterministic, not probabilistic fraud prevention

Most standard fraud prevention is probabilistic. Meaning they’ll detect when something is “probably” fraud. The resulting guesses with varying degrees of certainty can’t be too aggressive, because that increases error rates and false positives, wasting marketers’ time and money.

Singular fraud protection

What you need is deterministic fraud prevention, meaning your solution should detect and block when something is “definitely” fraud. In order to do this, fraud prevention detection needs to run on the actual individual installs, devices, and users, not blanket-level sources or publishers.

“Singular’s updated Fraud Prevention suite is the most powerful mobile app install fraud prevention I’ve seen. This will save us literally hundreds of thousands of dollars every month, and lead us to make more effective marketing decisions.”

— Channy Lim, Head of BI Department at Com2uS

Proactive, not reactive

Finding fraud after it has already occurred is too late. Mobile app marketers have already paid for traffic or users or customers, and then they’ll have to engage in time-consuming and difficult cost reconciliation conversations with partners. 

Your fraud prevention needs to be based on real-time data, not after-the-fact guesses.

A potentially bigger problem when you let fake users in: marketers get fraudulent engagement and purchase data along with the fake users, muddying your analytics and making it hard to decide where to re-invest. And even worse, legitimate ad networks’ algorithms can adapt to the fraud in real time, de-prioritizing campaigns and sources that are actually working because they are getting fewer installs attributed, thanks to theft by the fraudsters.

“Singular’s new progressive anti-fraud solution detected more ad fraud than competing solutions. This is a game-changer and will play a key role in making growth decisions.”

— Ronak Jain, Mobile Marketing Manager at Cleartrip

So it is absolutely critical to eliminate fake installs BEFORE attribution.

Transparent, not opaque

Both advertisers and ad networks need to know what constitutes fraud, and they need transparent reasons why traffic, installs, or other activity has been classified as fraud. So Singular provides user-level decision logic for every single install, click, and impression.

The result: no more arguments!

Customizable, not hard-coded

We enable you to personalize your fraud prevention strategy and dictate how aggressively you want to combat fraud by creating custom rules to automatically reject or flag fraudulent installs.

mobile attribution platform Fraud custom rules

Select by campaign, by country, by publisher, ad network, or even SDK version to customize how you want to deal with installs from any media source you’re working with. Mark it as suspicious or automatically reject it … or whitelist it for installs from a source you know is good.

Then add as many rules as you like.

More fraud prevention methods = more money saved

Singular’s multi-faceted fraud prevention suite simply checks more fraud signals, uses deeper data, and catches more fraud before it ever gets inside your campaigns. 

Save even more time and money — and train your ad partners how to deliver better users — by being proactive.

“Singular’s new fraud-fighting technology helps our User Acquisition team focus on legitimate campaigns and significantly boost return on ad spend.”

 — John Parides, Senior Director of User Acquisition at Glu

mobile attribution platform Fraud prevention methods

Singular’s Fraud Prevention, built and maintained by a highly-skilled set of cybersecurity experts, provides the most effective ad fraud protection available to mobile marketers. New clients who transition from a legacy attribution provider with limited fraud prevention typically find 20-50% more fraud than long-term Singular clients.

And Singular’s Fraud Prevention reveals that many of our new customers’ ad partners for paid mobile user acquisition actually have 80% fraud or higher.

#6: A mobile attribution platform that lets you create, activate, and auto-sync audience segments

A mobile attribution platform isn’t complete without world-class audiences capability.

Most audience solutions deliver exports of segments of customers or users that a brand wants to communicate with, support, sell to, or re-engage. The problem is that existing tools suffer from rigid creation capabilities and slow to no dynamic syncing with media sources to ensure audiences stay fresh.

The results are wasted impressions, irrelevant campaigns, and mistargeted customers or users. And that translates to poor performance. For example, the customer who hadn’t purchased yet when the audience was created buys an hour later … and gets an invitation to essentially re-buy the same shoes the very next day. 

Audience management solutions needs to do three things:

  • Enable you to create audiences with laser-precisions
  • Automatically distribute your new audience segments across all your media sources for activation
  • Regularly auto-sync to keep those dynamic audiences relevant and fresh

Built in consultation with the world’s best marketers at globally-recognizable brands, Singular’s re-envisioning of audience management automatically refreshes audience segments on an hourly basis, ensuring your marketing campaigns respond much faster to changes. That makes them much more relevant to your customers and users. 

In addition, our Audience Builder is highly customizable with multiple and/or conditions that enable precision targeting. This ensures brands send only the right messages to the right people, at the right time.

“Singular’s updated Audience Management is a great way for advertisers to reach the people they care about on Snapchat easily and effectively.”

— Kent Moy, Head of Measurement Partnerships, Snap

#7: A mobile attribution platform that the experts trust

The best marketers in the world trust Singular. Lyft, Rovio, Twitter, LinkedIn, Glu, Vice Media and hundreds of other brands use Singular on a daily basis for mobile measurement and to make their marketing data simple.

It simply helps them grow faster.

mobile attribution platform customers

Singular’s mobile attribution platform brings all of your marketing data into one place, making it analyzable, optimizable, and expressible in measurements and KPIs that conform to your brand, your marketing strategy, and your product or offering.

Next steps

If you’re serious about mobile app marketing and marketing attribution, you need to see what we do.

Let us give you a quick walk-through of the platform, customized to your interests, to see how Singular can accelerate your growth with attribution that does more.

Schedule a demo