Best Practices for Cross-Platform Ads Attribution

October 4, 2018 | Article written by Peter LaBerge


This week’s guest blog post is contributed by Peter LaBerge, Content Marketer at Branch.

If you’re in the mobile space, you’re likely well aware: cross-channel, cross-platform customer journeys are the new norm.

Some days, it seems like there are as many unique paths to an app download as there are users. Immediately acquiring every paid user who sees an ad isn’t a realistic expectation for paid marketing strategies, but the stakes are far too high to set up a string of ad campaigns and settle for tracking some installs.

These users cross channels and platforms as they learn about your app, making it crucial to ensure your attribution stack can report on each of these touchpoints accurately. In other words, your attribution provider must connect pre-download user identities across all the channels and platforms that comprise your growth stack, so you know which channels are contributing to increasing app downloads, and which are not.

If your current attribution provider is not uniting and de-duplicating users across channels and platforms, you’re likely losing visibility into installs — and, therefore, conversions and revenue — to competing apps that are tracking cross-platform users (and iterating in response to collected insights).

A winning approach to cross-platform attribution isn’t impossible, however. Let’s take a look at some best practices.


1. Unite Users of Attribution Data, and Get Them Behind the Cross-Platform Approach

As the number of paid marketing channels continues to increase and overlap, it has become increasingly difficult for even the savviest app marketers and data analysts to understand the impact that each of these channels has on overall ads performance. It’s important that all stakeholders understand the inherent value of cross-platform ads attribution to get buy-in that leads to unified analytics

Without uniting ads performance (and the user acquisition, engagement, and re-engagement your ads can inspire) across all of your paid marketing channels and platforms, you’re doing a disservice to your present team and your future product. Communicating that there is a way to accomplish cross-platform attribution, and ironing out any doubts or areas of confusion, can only strengthen and streamline the process of collecting and responding to cross-platform data.



2. Optimize In-App Events Tracking

Historically, it hasn’t been possible to reliably track in-app events and attribute them back to pre-install channel and platform user engagement—but that can all change with the right tech stack.

Using best-in-class in-app analytics and Universal Ads (powered by Branch’s People-Based Attribution), mobile companies can access and utilize cross-platform data that is unprecedented in its sophistication and accuracy—even when multiple user touchpoints are involved. In this way, guesswork associated with mobile fragmentation (more specifically, guesswork associated with the fragmentation of the app ecosystem) no longer applies to in-app attribution.



Let’s say, for example, you’re looking to track an original source of in-app purchases in your app. With this approach to tracking in-app events, you’d be able to access real-time in-app conversion data, as well as the full-funnel pre-install data for users who convert (or, depending on your area of interest, don’t convert). For instance, you might find that users labeled as organically downloading your app via the App Store are actually installing via Facebook ads or via the mobile web. This, of course, can significantly impact your mobile strategy.

For more information about getting started with Branch and Taptica, you can check out our step-by-step guide here.


3. Use Cross-Platform Data to Prove Your Ads’ Value and Form Future Decisions

It’s all well and good to know which channels and platforms are the best at driving downloads for your mobile app—but don’t forget to use this data to lead marketing and product decisions and A/B testing.

Let’s look at a quick example: say you’re Forever 21, and you’re preparing a mobile budget plan for next quarter. With a conventional, siloed approach to attribution, Forever 21 would likely infer that organic users are traveling to the App Store and downloading the app, and would thus invest in ASO and other measures to optimize its App Store listing.

On the other hand, with a cross-platform approach to attribution, Forever 21 could explore whether some of these users viewed mobile ads or clicked on social media links before searching for the Forever 21 app at a later date, or whether the installs truly did originate from organic App Store sessions.

With attribution insights that move beyond conventional first-touch and/or last-touch user behavior, you can adjust priorities and areas of optimization, and deliver more value through your ads. If you’re curious how some of the best brands in mobile are using cross-platform attribution data to drive product and strategy innovations, you can check out how The Knot used this data to more quickly iterate, A/B test, and optimize.


4. Put Your Money Where the Data Is!

Most importantly, it’s critical to remember to put your money where the data is. Since cross-channel, cross-platform data equips marketers with all they need to see which channels and platforms are driving growth, they can apply findings to future budgetary decisions to ensure they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck.

Monetization can make or break apps looking to scale growth and retention, so appropriately budgeting across channels and platforms makes all the difference. Branch’s People-Based Attribution Engine enables you to track which channels and platforms deliver converting users to your app, while Taptica’s multi-channel, full-service monetization solution brings you the latest ad formats, targeting, and optimization techniques.

If you’re ready to take your ads attribution practices to the next level, click here to learn more about how Branch and Taptica enable brands to enhance ads performance!