Measuring performance: Why attribution reports are a valuable learning tool

Samuel Harries

Dec 20, 2018

If you’re not running attribution reports, then you simply don’t have enough data. And if you’ve been thinking about adding such reports, then don’t delay much further - they’ll be vital to marketing success heading into 2019.

Without attribution reports, you’re missing out on important insights; you’ll never know the true performance of your ad spend, the extent of your organic traffic or how long it takes users to convert. The list goes on, but the bottom line is that without tracking data with a mobile measurement partner (MMP), you’re blindfolded.

Attribution reports offer transparency to a campaign’s performance, and allow you to view that information all in one place. So there’s a lot that can be learned - for example, you could:

  • View network performance with Click-Through rates (CTR).
  • Inform reengagement strategies by observing retention rates.
  • Better understand user behavior from Cohort reports, and use that data to create retargeting groups.

These are just a few ways attribution reports can help optimize your UA and retargeting strategies. In this article, we’ll break down a handful of benefits and explore their uses.

Before getting into these tips and tricks, it may help to understand how attribution reports are shaped by the attribution model used and the length of your attribution window.

Types of attribution models:

Learning industry standards and the attribution modeling available to you helps to better understand the results of any MMP’s attribution reporting. So, as an initial step, let’s focus on three commonly discussed methods and their current place within the industry.

  • First click attribution
  • Last click attribution
  • Multi-touch attribution (MTA)

As you might expect, first and last click attribution are single source attribution methods where you attribute a conversion to the user’s first or final click. That means if the final click before conversion was on a Google ad, Google receives 100% of the credit. In opposition to this, the basic principle of multi-touch attribution is to acknowledge every touchpoint that influenced a user to install.

And while each method has its pros and cons, it’s important to understand MTA’s vulnerability to click spam. This is a topic that Adjust’s CTO, Paul H. Müller, covered in a previous blog post, where he explains what’s wrong with multi-touch attribution.

What you really need to know is that throughout the mobile industry, last click attribution is the standard model for MMPs. That means companies such as Adjust use last click attribution for their modeling, and this is what you’ll see in your attribution reports.

How does the Attribution Window affect my report?

Your attribution window defines the period of time in which a publisher is able to claim that a click has led to an install. For example, if you have an attribution window of seven days, the install must happen within seven days of the click in order to be attributed to that network. If that user installs on the eighth day after the last click, it would be attributed as an organic install in your report.

This term is also known as a conversion window, and is agreed between advertisers and publishers. For fair comparison, it’s a good idea to set the same attribution window for all your campaigns. The standard is seven days, but it can be reduced to suit your needs.

Note that you’re likely to see more organic installs in your report if you have a shorter attribution window. If you’d like to learn more, you may also be interested in our blog post on customized attribution settings.

Now that we’ve covered these two aspects of attribution reports, we’re ready to look at what they have to offer as a learning tool.

App install attributions: Where is your traffic coming from?

Even if you’re able to see your app’s install count without a third-party report, this measurement can create more questions than answers if you don’t see where your traffic came from. Attribution reports provide an accurate measurement of success for each network, showing you where money was well spent and where it went to waste.

This is much more than just an install count. Understanding which networks drive your KPIs adds another benefit to attribution reports and allows you to evaluate your ad spend accordingly. Here’s a scenario where this could be of use:

Let’s say that Network A drives fewer installs than network B. But because you’ve set up tracking for purchase events (one of your KPIs), this can also be considered when determining a network’s value. The report also shows that Network A’s users make more in-app purchases. From this, you could determine that network A actually brings users of greater value - an important factor that could inform your ad spend.

By viewing the bigger picture, you’re now in a better position to achieve your UA and retargeting goals. Metrics such as conversion rates and the daily average users (DAU) can also be shown, allowing you to take a closer look at the performance of each network.

Dive deeper into performance measurement: From CTR to CPC

Users are often unpredictable, which can (and will) complicate data. How many times do users see an ad before they make a purchase? What makes them click? Do impressions add up? Attribution reports aim to bring clarity to these complexities.

With these reports, you can receive insight into user behavior to optimize your marketing strategy. Here’s a few examples of further insights you could gain:

  • Click-Through rate (CTR). This defines a campaign’s ratio of clicks to impressions, showing you how many people have clicked on an ad compared to the number of people who see it.
  • Conversion from click to install rate. This shows the number of clicks an ad receives versus the number of eventual installs - a useful measurement for optimizing your ad spend.
  • Cost per Click (CPC). This measures the average cost for every time a user clicks on an ad, allowing you to evaluate budgets accordingly.

After learning these measurements for your app, you could see where you stand in comparison to industry averages with Adjust’s Global Benchmarks tool. Our most recent report used data from more than +4b installs & 7,000 apps, and provides insight on all the measurements above for various app categories.

You can also use mobile measurement partners to discover your app’s churn rate. On average, almost 80% of users will churn the day after install, but that doesn’t mean they’ve deleted the app - they simply haven’t used it since it was installed. This offers an opportunity to re-engage these valuable users with push notifications or in-app promotion.

Churn rates can also help you detect issues with your app. For example, if you see that users drop off during the purchasing process, it’s possible that a form is too long or the function doesn’t work well.

From churn rates to cohort reports, the overall benefits to attribution reports can be summed up with one simple fact - without measuring performance, it can’t be improved. When properly analyzed, these reports can be incredibly valuable to your understanding of acquisition and retargeting.

If you want to dive deeper into the value of attribution reports, we’ve got resources to help you every step of the way. We’ve previously explored why you still need attribution reports if you only work with one network, provided essential insights for mobile app attribution, and even created a beginners guide to app tracking. You can also learn more about attribution terminology with our mobile marketing glossary.

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