How to Choose the Best Mobile Attribution Tool to Save Money and Boost Revenue

Anne Verhoeven

Jan 22, 2020

In an increasingly complex mobile environment, marketers need data they can rely on — and finding the right attribution provider can help you save money and grow your app.

Gone are the days when digital marketers were content with knowing the demographics of their audience and whether they were downloading apps via Android or iOS. Today, the best mobile attribution tool will provide you with a digital trail of breadcrumbs that tells the story of how you got your users, where they came from, how and when they interacted with your app and — most importantly — the best way to build relationships with more users. But finding the right mobile attribution provider isn’t always easy.

Data is the lifeblood of every business and that’s even more true for mobile and apps. So let’s explore the path to finding the right attribution provider by outlining everything you need to consider.

Attribution 101: What is an attribution tool?

Stated simply, attribution is about gathering the right information to help you make more informed decisions about how best to market your app — and which acquisition sources prove most fruitful at every stage of the funnel. Think about it this way: attribution is the relationship between a mobile app install and what triggered it. Was it an ad on Facebook? A sponsored tweet? A video? Then, once your app is installed on a mobile device, from which sites or ads are they accessing that app? Which do they use to access most often? This is why attribution is critical for optimizing your campaigns and overall strategy. Furthermore, by tracking and analyzing user events, you can better understand your users’ behavior. For example, learning how users interacted with certain creatives allows you to confidently develop and optimize this aspect of your campaigns.

It goes without saying that you should take your selection of an attribution provider seriously. Mobile marketing is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years and you need to be able to effectively scale along with that growth. According to the GMSA, the number of unique mobile subscriptions is projected to reach 5.7 billion in 2020 — that’s 73% of the world’s population. The GMSA further indicates that mobile contributions to global GDP are at $3.3 trillion. There’s big money in apps and many players working hard to get their piece of it — including fraudsters. Partnering with the right attribution provider can help you move forward with confidence, knowing your data is sound and your budget is being spent wisely.

What you need from an attribution provider: A checklist

To maximize revenue, minimize costs and reduce risk, today’s mobile marketers need attribution companies that can provide breadth and depth in a safe, fraud-free environment.** **No two providers are the same. Each offers a different combination of options and features. When considering the various options, though, this checklist of key considerations should help marketers make an informed choice.

  1. Your attribution provider must be an impartial third party

    Make sure your attribution provider is completely neutral and 100% accurate. A mobile attribution provider that also sells advertising space, sales data or promotes third-party products, erodes trust with users. In addition, you want to be able to rely on your mobile attribution data to make sound decisions. That means that each action should be counted once: one data point, per event, per person. This ensures that you are paying only once for each event.

  2. Your mobile attribution provider needs to be connected to major publishers

    It’s critical that you make sure your attribution provider is connected to the major publishers and integrated with your most important ad partners. You can’t afford to settle for anything less.** **If you’re spending money on a channel, you want to make sure that your attribution provider can access data on that channel for your campaigns. If you don’t have this access, you’re not going to get full value from the data that will let you know which networks are working best. In addition, marketers considering expanding overseas should be sure to choose a vendor that has a global network and strong partnerships around the world.

    Adjust has more than 2,000 network and analytics partnerships that receive conversion data from their campaigns through our postback API. Integrations with Adjust are set up dynamically and require minimal preparation. You can find a full list of Adjust’s technology partners, here.

  3. Ensure you have frequent access and control of your data

    Make sure you have ready and frequent access to data and that you can compare past and current campaigns. Data should be stored over time; long enough that you’re able to access it to help you make decisions. The ability to go back to your data also ensures that you’re able to track user journeys and behavior over time. In addition, make sure your provider doesn’t limit the number of data requests or queries you can make. You should be in the driver’s seat here.

  4. Make sure your provider has uninstall and reinstall tracking for successful re-engagement

    When your mobile attribution provider can track uninstall and reinstall data, you gain an opportunity to prolong your user’s lifecycle and boost LTV. This is because tracking these events enables you to learn when users have churned and when they need to be engaged – optimizing your reengagement strategy. Receiving reinstall reports from your attribution provider also gives you critical data about which engagements performed best for churned users. With more information on why users decided to leave your app, you have a better opportunity to learn how to bring them back.

    If you’d like to learn more about uninstall and reinstall tracking with Adjust, click here.

  5. Ensure you gain an audience segmentation tool for successful retargeting

    Implementing successful retargeting campaigns can be a challenging process, but the best attribution providers will help simplify this and eliminate the time it takes to perform. You should choose a provider that offers an audience segmentation tool designed to streamline the process.

    With Adjust’s Audience Builder, you can carry out retargeting campaigns with ease. This is because the tool allows you to define audiences using your in-house Adjust data, saving you time and effort that can be better spent on campaign analysis.

    Once you’ve defined an audience, this can be sent to your partners and acted upon immediately. Audiences can also be as detailed as you like: our tool allows you to target users based on events, day of install, device type, and more.

  6. Make sure you have fraud prevention – not just detection – from the most common types of mobile ad fraud

    Mobile ad fraud is a widespread issue that affects all verticals, with reports estimating losses between $6.5 — $19 billion every year. It is therefore critical to choose an attribution provider that aims to prevent fraudsters from taking a cut of your ad spend. Do your due diligence to make sure the company is able to not only detect but also prevent fraud. If a provider can only detect fraud, then you’re still a step behind the fraudsters. This means you’ll pay for fraudulent traffic and then the onus will be on you to build a case for a refund from your ad network. This can hinder you long-term as well; without active prevention, your data will be skewed and, ultimately, both meaningless and misleading.

    There are three types of mobile ad fraud you should be aware of before choosing an attribution provider:

  • Click Spam occurs when a click is fraudulently executed on behalf of a user. The user is unaware that the fake click occurred, and might not have even seen the ad for which they supposedly clicked. This type of mobile ad fraud is also known as organics poaching.

  • Click injection is another form of click spam. This is initiated when fraudsters publish an Android app, which in turn gives them access to “install broadcasts.” This means that it’s possible for fraudsters to detect when apps are downloaded onto a device — meaning the fraudsters can then trigger clicks before the app install is complete. Unless there are preventative tools in place, the fraudster can claim credit for the install.

  • SDK spoofing uses real device data to create illegitimate installs. This ad fraud scheme can siphon up to 80% of ad budgets and affects all SDKs. This type of fraud is also known as a replay attack or traffic spoofing.

    It’s critical that you know how your attribution provider will prevent these types of mobile ad fraud from stealing your ad spend. Adjust’s Fraud Prevention Suite combats user acquisition fraud, preventing fraudulent traffic from stealing your marketing budget. Every install event is analyzed in real-time, as our Fraud Prevention Suite scans for any potential abnormalities. To learn more about Adjust’s Fraud Prevention Suite, click here. You can also read more about fraud prevention and how to combat mobile ad fraud on our blog.

  1. Your provider must uphold data privacy at the highest standards: GDPR and ePrivacy compliance

    Finally, choose a provider that can ensure data privacy. Attribution companies that are certified by the ePrivacy group in the EU or the Privacy Shield group in the United States offer peace of mind to marketers who must follow privacy regulations or risk major fines. They can also help marketers understand new regulations, like the incoming CCPA.

    It is Adjust’s belief that all users have a right to privacy, and their personal data must have full protection and security when managed by an attribution provider. We have been ePrivacy certified since 2015 and always follow the strictest European data standards. For these reasons, Adjust has led the way for user privacy in mobile measurement.

By choosing Adjust as your attribution provider, you can gain a greater understanding of your marketing performance across multiple channels. You will always know which ads delivered each user and gain contextual information that can be used to optimize campaign performance. Our dynamic partner setup also means you don’t need to worry about large network SDKs or URLs specific to one partner. Instead, your campaigns are added into your dashboard, where you can start tracking results immediately.

If you’d like to know more about mobile attribution, we have further information in our beginner’s guide.

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