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Mobile Attribution: The Definitive Guide for eCommerce Businesses

Mobile Attribution: The Definitive Guide for eCommerce Businesses

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

Mobile attribution is essential for eCommerce businesses in the same way that a compass is essential when navigating uncharted waters. Without it, eCommerce businesses may find themselves adrift and in a sea of uncertainty. Mobile app attribution is the key to marketing success, streamlining eCommerce marketing efforts and ensuring that businesses reach their goals.

Businesses that fail to leverage the power of mobile attribution platforms will struggle to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. This guide provides an overview of mobile attribution and everything you need to know about setting it up for your business.

Understanding Mobile Attribution

Going over the basics of mobile app attribution can help paint a better picture of how a mobile attribution platform can help businesses succeed.

What is Mobile Attribution?

Mobile attribution enables you to track and measure app installs, in-app purchases, and subscriptions across different advertising channels.

Using a comprehensive mobile attribution platform, marketers can then track each campaign and channel's performance to see which ones are driving the most user engagement and revenue. Mobile tracking can also highlight weak areas or areas for improvement so they can optimize them for greater ROAS.

While single events may not be insightful, over time, mobile attribution tools can paint a beautiful picture that tells a captivating story. From how a customer acquired your app to how much money they've spent, app tracking attribution can provide insights that allow for smarter operational decisions.

For instance, what Facebook ad creatives were more effective, or what ad placement brought the most downloads? Mobile app tracking enables you to answer such key questions and provide accurate attribution to boost ROAS.

How Does Mobile App Attribution Differ From Web Attribution?

Mobile attribution is similar to web tracking or attribution but has some key differences.

The most notable difference between the two is that mobile attribution is more difficult to track because mobile app usage involves more user engagement than a website does. As such, mobile attribution requires specialized tracking technologies to collect data about users’ interactions with the app.

Also, it is slightly harder to track from the mobile web to the app marketplaces such as Google Play, Apple App Store, and more on mobile devices.

Different Types of Mobile Attribution Models

There are several types of mobile attribution models, such as:

First click attribution

This model assigns credit to the first channel or marketing campaign a user interacted with before they converted. For example, if app users clicked on a Facebook ad before installing the app, then that Facebook ad campaign would get credit for that app install.

While the downside of first-click attribution is that it tends to give too much credit to the first channel or campaign, it can be useful for measuring top-of-funnel activities and tracking user acquisition.

Last click attribution

This model assigns credit to the marketing channels that the user interacted with last before they converted. For example, if a user clicked on a mobile ad before installing the app, then that App Store campaign would get credit for that install.

Last-click attribution is useful for measuring bottom-of-funnel activities, as it gives the most credit to the advertising campaigns or marketing channels that drove the user to take the desired action. However, it may discount all other channels or campaigns that also played a role in nurturing the customer to take the action. These include email campaigns, organic search, guest posting, and more.

Multi-touch attribution

This model conducts data collection and assigns credit to multiple platforms or marketing campaigns a user interacted with before converting. Multi-touch attribution is the preferred model to help marketers understand how their campaigns are performing by offering granular insights across the entire user journey. However, multi-touch attribution is not as popular as with ad networks as both Apple SAdNetwork and Android use last-click attribution.

Time-decay attribution

This model assigns more credit to interactions that are closer in time to a user’s conversion and has attribution windows. The downfall of this model is that it ignores all other channels or campaigns that may have played a role in the conversion and only focuses on those closest in time. However, it can still help understand mobile users behavior.

View-through attribution

This model assigns credit to ad campaigns and channels that a user viewed but didn’t necessarily click on or engage with before they converted. This model can be useful if users are exposed to ads and then go directly to the App Store or Google Play store to install the app. This way mobile marketers can understand how the user interacts and can even launch retargeting attribution campaigns.

Setting up Mobile Attribution for your Business

Once you know how mobile attribution works, it’s time to start setting up one of the best mobile attribution tools for your business.

Choose The Right Mobile Attribution Provider

No matter how sophisticated your tech stack is, you will still need to select one of the best mobile attribution providers to make sure everything is connected and running smoothly. Look for a mobile attribution tool that offers accurate and reliable app analytics such as tracking, reporting, and optimization capabilities.

For instance, some mobile attribution platforms might offer real-time hard data points to give you more up-to-date app analytics. Others may be better equipped to provide cross-device app analytics to give you a full picture of your marketing activities. App developers can also use this information to make informed decisions on the app's UI design or UX.

A few features that you should keep an eye out for are:

  • Customizable Dashboards: Customizable dashboards give you the power to analyze, measure, and optimize your operational performance in one place. Plus, with mobile or web data such as google analytics, you can get actionable insights into how customers interact across all channels on one dashboard.
  • Cohort Analytics: Cohort analytics allow you to monitor groups that provide a comprehensive overview of your operational performance and KPIs.
  • Segmentation: Segmentation allows you to break down your audiences and customers into groups based on attributes and behaviors for more detailed analytics. This insight can help you optimize your operations for maximum Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).
  • Real-time metrics: Real-time metrics provide the most up-to-date data points so that you can make decisions faster. Plus, this data allows you to identify trends early and act on them quickly.

Integrate Mobile Attribution with Your eCommerce Platform

Once you have combed through the various mobile attribution platforms and have selected a perfect attribution provider that fits your needs, you will need to integrate this mobile attribution tool with your eCommerce platform. This may involve custom coding or paying for an app if you are using a third-party platform like Shopify.

Make sure to thoroughly test the integration before you go live with the system. That way, you can be sure that all of your attribution data is accurate and up-to-date when it’s time to start analyzing performance metrics.

Best Practices for Setting Up Mobile Attribution

As you set up mobile attribution for your business, there are a few best practices that you should keep in mind.

  • Make sure that all of the data points in your attribution tool are accurate and up-to-date. This means that you should regularly test your attribution platform to make sure that it is still running smoothly and providing accurate data.
  • Set up your system to track key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter for your business. This could include app downloads, user engagement, conversions, and more.
  • Test different attribution models to find the one that best fits your business’s needs. Different models are better suited to different types of businesses and industries, so make sure to find the one that works best for you.
  • Optimize your attribution model regularly to make sure it’s still working as expected. Over time, metrics are bound to change and you should be prepared to adjust your model accordingly. Working with a mobile measurement partner that offers configurable attribution windows will allow you to adjust attribution data over time.

Essential KPIs for Apps and How to Track Them

Once you have set up a mobile attribution system for your business, it’s important to understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you should be tracking and how to track them.


Track the number of app downloads you receive over a given period. This will give you an indication of how well your app is doing and if there are any areas that you can optimize to increase downloads.


How many users are actively using your app over a given period? With the help of retention reports, you can see how well your app is doing in terms of user engagement and harness the best customer retention strategies.


Which features within your app are being used the most? Your user engagement will include time spent in the app, the number of sessions, and more. This data can be used to identify your user journeys, the areas where users might be dropping off, and any changes you can make to keep them engaged.


Track how many users complete a purchase or action in your app. A good conversion rate indicates that your app business is performing well, and any discrepancies will help you identify areas that need to be optimized. Now, you can utilize the best conversion rate strategies to maximize revenue.

Number of Unique Visitors

Measured by IP addresses, the number of unique visitors to your app will give you an indication of how much reach your mobile ad is getting. This can help you understand if your advertising budget or marketing efforts are paying off and if there are any areas where you can improve.

Number of Events by Category

Track the number of events that happen within your app, such as page views, add-ons, and more. Knowing which events are happening more often than others can help you identify areas where users are most engaged and any changes you might need to make.

Measuring and Optimizing Mobile Attribution

Once you’ve set up mobile attribution for your business and identified the essential KPIs, it’s time to start measuring and optimizing.

Identifying and Addressing Mobile Attribution Discrepancies

The first step in optimizing how mobile attribution work is to identify any discrepancies between the data you’re tracking and the actual performance of your app. This could be anything from a data discrepancy in ad click numbers to unexpected user engagement.

Once you’ve identified any data discrepancies, you can start to address them. This could involve making changes to your attribution model or adjusting the way you track certain metrics. For example, if you’re noticing a discrepancy in downloads, you might want to change the attribution model from last-click to first-click.

Optimizing Mobile Attribution for Maximum ROI

Once you’ve identified and addressed any discrepancies, it’s time to optimize your mobile attribution for maximum ROI. For example, you can make changes to the ad creatives used to entice your target audience with the help of image pixel tags. Also, switching to the ad network that your target audience frequently uses is an effective approach to boosting your efforts.

Advanced Mobile Attribution Techniques

Now that you’ve got a handle on the basics of mobile attribution, it’s time to explore more advanced techniques.

Cohort Analysis and Segmentation

Cohort analysis allows you to identify data trends in user actions over time. It’s important to segment your users into different cohorts, such as new users, repeat users, and dormant users. This will help you identify areas where improvements can be made to maximize user engagement and conversions for each specific cohort. For example, for dormant users, you might want to focus on creating more engaging content or offer incentives for them to come back.

Multi-touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution gives you a clear picture of the user journey across various touchpoints. This can help you identify areas where users are dropping off and take the necessary steps to improve their experience. For example, if you notice that users are dropping off at the payment page, you might want to make the process easier by adding a payment gateway or offering discounts to incentivize them to complete the purchase.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Mobile Attribution

By leveraging artificial intelligence tools and machine learning for mobile attribution, you can get a more accurate picture of user behavior and optimize your marketing efforts. This involves analyzing data from various sources, such as user interactions, device usage, and more For example, with fraud detection, you can train your app against hackers. Plus, with AI-driven insights, you can personalize the user experience and maximize your ROI.

Partner With The Premier Mobile Attribution Tool

By understanding how mobile attribution works, you can gain an inside peek into user behavior for optimizing your marketing efforts. Leveraging advanced techniques helps you gain valuable insights into the user journey across various touchpoints. Armed with this knowledge, app publishers and marketers can maximize ROAS by personalizing the user experience and creating targeted campaigns that drive conversions.

If you're looking to get started on improving your mobile attribution strategy today then Triple Pixel is just what you need! Triple PixelO helps you gather the first-party data you need to make data-driven decisions and maximize ad spend.

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