What is a callback?

Glossary What is a callback?

The definition of callback

A callback, also known as a postback, is a ping (an http or https request) made between one server and another. A callback happens when an activity or event takes place within an app. It can happen manually or automatically.

Real-time callbacks are received as raw data using various placeholders–a set of dynamic macros created by Adjust. At Adjust, we send a callback immediately after an event is triggered from an ad engagement (using the tracker URL) or from within the app (via the SDK). These callbacks can be set up to receive advertising IDs, attribution details, app data, or, in real-time, raw data. The image below demonstrates a callback journey from ad engagement or in-app activity, and how that information is passed from the app or ad engagement via Adjust through to your server.

Why do we need callbacks?

Callbacks are important for anyone using server-based technology to provide real-time reporting for mobile marketing analysis and on-the-dime optimizations. They are crucial for  providing data to tools or dashboards connected to or integrated with the server. For example, a mobile analytics dashboard like Adjust’s Datascape.

The presence of consistently triggered callbacks helps businesses to feel confident about the quality of their data. Mobile marketers can know with reasonable certainty that their data is accurate, as opposed to questioning whether figures are duplicated, fraudulent, or inaccurately attributed.

This has significant effects on a business’s confidence in using data to inform performance. Data that is updated in real-time when significant actions occur allows developers to respond quickly with any changes they need to make.

For example, let’s say a developer pushes an update. The change causes a technical problem, which in turn leads users to churn. Luckily, the company is running callbacks on crash reports. They spot the issue early, defusing it as soon as possible.

Or, perhaps an app marketer has a callback set up for in-app purchase (IAP) events and notices a spike after a push notification campaign. This informs the marketer/developer that the push notification campaign is a successful IAP driver that could be implemented on a larger scale.

Considerations when working with callbacks

Businesses need to consider which Adjust-tracked activities and events they would like to trigger callbacks, as it’s possible to trigger callbacks on almost any event. However, requesting callbacks on all events can present companies with two potential challenges:

  1. Internal servers are put under pressure. This could mean that anything accessing the server (including the app itself) could be affected by callback traffic, potentially slowing performance.
  2. Potential to cloud successful analysis. Businesses need to weigh up whether analyzing everything or looking for specific actions will help their processes more.

That being said, setting up callbacks for each stage of your user funnel is of great value to your retargeting analysis. This can help you identify user lags, or measure how long it takes users to move from one step to the next, among other useful analyses.

Callbacks and Adjust

Adjust offers global, single activity, and multiple callbacks. Global callbacks look at high-level activity like sessions, installs, and clicks. Single activity callbacks, as the name suggests, are used for one specific activity. Multiple callbacks are the same as single activity callbacks but are sent to as many endpoints as you want.

Adjust’s callbacks are the only way to receive raw data directly on your own servers and the way you use them will depend on your business model and marketing objectives. The best practice is to have the most useful placeholders appended to your callback URLs. You can find Adjust’s recommended list of placeholders here, any of which can be used.

Our Help Center provides technical advice for mobile marketers working with callbacks. This includes best practices on how to select events for automated callbacks, as well as how to effectively add that data to custom analysis efforts. Learn how Adjust displays data across all of your campaigns in one seamless dashboard with Datascape.

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