What is mobile attribution and why it is important?
Mobile attribution
Mobile attribution

Mobile attribution


On a daily basis, an internet user comes across various ads run by various brands before making any purchase. Keeping a track of all these ads is important to know which of them are doing the best so that we can allocate more resources to the relevant ads and generate a bigger customer base.


Tracking ads is quite simple on the web. We can track all our ads for ad sources, ad campaigns, medium and ad ids with UTM parameters given in the URL. Rest is just data and its visualisation that helps us understand customer mindset better. 


But it’s the decade of mobile phones, so not all the traffic comes from the web


Let’s talk about Mobile generated traffic for a minute that costs up to more than 50% of traffic on the internet. It means, it is necessary for marketers to run mobile ads to promote their businesses. 


On the web, you can pass all your UTM parameters with the help of cookies to analytic systems that can record what medium, campaigns, ads etc brought in the traffic. And we can surely apply the same method on mobile advertisements as well.


But here’s the tricky part. These cookies generally don’t go well in mobiles which makes them unreliant and fruitless. Here’s why so: 


On mobiles, a user can view an ad in two ways: either through a mobile web browser or on different apps installed on mobile systems that have the ability to show ads.


  • On mobile browsers, cookies work pretty much the same. Browser saves the cookies containing basic user information to generate a more interactive environment. But every time you shut the browser, or the phone, the cookies in mobile browsers are disoluted; that’s a little loss there. 


  • Cookies exist on various mobile apps as well but cookies in one mobile app can’t be shared with another mobile app even if they exist on the same mobile device. That’s the part where applying the approach of adding UTM parameters in URL to track ads fails completely.


And, you should also know this, even though mobile browsers exist but more than 85% mobile traffic comes from the apps. And that’s a huge amount. How would we track our ads in such an environment? 


Why Mobile Attribution?


As established above, we can’t track users via cookies on Mobile devices. Even though cookies exist on mobile apps, they perish as soon as the user comes out of the host app by clicking on the ad link. This means UTM parameters can’t track the user journey of installing apps or purchasing goods accurately.


Here’s where Mobile attribution comes to play. It has the ability to track users with their user Ids across various apps that helps us to know which ad turned the user. 


Let’s understand this in a little detailed manner.


There are two popular mobile operating systems: iOS that is generally used in Apple products and android that you will find on other mobile devices.


Both iOS and android give the devices they are running on, a unique device ID. We track that mobile identifier or mobile ID before and after each installation/ transaction to get to its source. Here’s how it works in simple steps:


  1. Let’s say you are running Ads to promote your new mobile application. The very moment a user comes across one of your Ads on your partner host advertising app, we record its device id with the help of an activation system. This is before he has even clicked on the link to download the app. 
  2. Let’s say a user gets interested in this Ad and clicks on the link to install it.
  3. When he reaches the App store or Google Play store to download the app, we have no information as to where he came from because no cookies are shared among apps. What we do here is, when the user does a download, the attribution SDK gets initialised that tracks the user to give us its unique device id.
  4. We then match its device id with all the device ids of all the users that saw the particular Ad. And thus, we come to know which ads directed him. 


For this, we need third party mobile attribution providers such as AppsFlyer,, Adjust etc. 


It might seem a little tedious but mostly an easy job when you read it but it is quite difficult. Why? 


Because there are millions of users that contribute to mobile generated traffic. It’s simply hectic to track all the users across different apps even with their device ids.


But that’s just not it. As marketers, it’s your intention to reach a wide range of public. You can only do that if you run Ads on different hosting apps. Moreover, you run different sets of Ads, sometimes through social media influencers other times through proper generated video ads. Then there’s a general ad that hosting apps runs. For example, Instagram might show your Ad as a regular post. 


It’s simply too much data. One can not do it alone or with untrained professionals. For this you need a team that knows their way around these hurdles and are experienced enough with mobile attribution providers as discussed above. Otherwise you will end up with half-done things or worse irrelevant relations among data. 


In short, without efficient Mobile attribution, you will end up paying money to all your partners. You need to identify the partner that’s giving you the most customers so that you can put more capital in their ad programs. 


Advantages of Mobile Attribution 


Mobile attribution can give us better Data Quality, accuracy and a justification of monetary spend so that you can select the most worthy Ad.


  • We can calculate the efficiency of an ad in real-time and drop all the ads that are not giving us their required beneficiaries. 
  • Users can be studied better for their interests and can be projected to experiments in future.
  • Identification of useful advertising partners as well the best performing ads. It can help you decide where to invest more.
  • More impactful market research is a big asset to your business. 
  • Ads can be improved, changed, or modified to produce outcome. 


When you can have assistance from tools like adjust, appsflyer, etc that can give better data picturisation and a team of professionals such as one at Accelmatic who specialise in this field then why should you derail yourself? 


To conclude, web attribution and mobile attribution are significantly different because they use different approaches. The former one is dependent on UTM parameters which do not suffice for the latter one. Mobile attribution is a better option to track mobile ads across your partner advertising apps. Though it is difficult and you need a special team to do this for you, it is all worth it because the present time accuracy it gives is completely fruitful.