Know When To Pay For Acquiring App Users Through Mobile Attribution

Acquiring App Users - Indus

Understanding Mobile Attribution Technology And Platforms To Acquire Users Through Your App Ads

Key takeaways from the last blog

  •     Attribution is the practice of evaluating various marketing touchpoints to a consumer on their path to purchase. It helps marketers decide the platform from which the user installed your app.
  •     Attribution platforms integrate an SDK in the apps that helps in tracking ‘App Opens’, leading to attributing the app install to a source.
  •     There are three types of attribution namely, Click attribution, Preload attribution, and System property attribution.
  •     Click attribution is most used by the developer community to track user acquisition. It involves two URLs: Impression URL and Click URL. If an ad is only viewed by the user, an Impression URL is fired by the ad publisher/network. If someone clicks on the ad, it shows the intent of the user, and a click URL is fired by the ad publisher/network.


Now that we are clear with the basic definitions of mobile attribution keywords. Let’s dig deeper into the technicalities.

Say, a click URL is fired by ad publisher ‘X’ but your app is not immediately installed by the user. After an interval, the user installs the app through another ad publisher ‘Y’. Will you pay X or Y?

Here’s when the Lookback Window comes in.

What is a Lookback Window?

A lookback window is a period (after an ad is clicked or viewed) within which an install can be attributed, or matched to that ad.

The lookback window can range from 1 day to 30 days. This window can often be configured by advertisers to better fit their attribution logic. Generally, the standard is 7 days for Click URL and 24 hours for Impressions URL.

So, if a user clicks an ad served by ad publisher X and installs the app within 7 days of the engagement (without clicking another ad before installing), X gets the credit for the install. However, if the user installs the app 7 days after clicking the ad through ad publisher Y, then the credit goes to Y.

What if the User Uninstalls Your App and Reinstalls it After a Period?

In case the user reinstalls your app on his/her device which has already been attributed to some other publisher, do you pay again for user acquisition? Well, it depends on your reattribution window.

What is a Reattribution Window?

A reattribution window is a period after which a user can be reattributed to the publisher when s/he reinstalls an app.

However, this reinstall event cannot be counted as a new install if it happens inside a re-attribution window. Therefore, the advertiser does not pay again for the install.

The window begins when the user installs and opens the app and can be set to a given advertiser’s needs i.e. Advertisers have the freedom of setting the re-attribution period, ranging from 90 days to 2 years.

Who Gets Paid When Multiple Impression URLs and Click URLs are fired?

Even if the ad is run through multiple ad partners, only one gets paid. Let’s talk about the Last Click Model to explain this.

Last Click Model

The ad publisher who claims last for the installation of the app in a “legit” way, gets attributed for the same. This is called the Last Click Model. However, the ‘install and open’ of the app must happen to receive attribution. Any URL claimed after the app open will be invalid and not attributed to the advertiser.

Want to know how to track URLs to analyze user journeys with Indus App Bazaar? Check out the manual here.

Which Ad Publisher Will Get the Preference for Attribution?

The first preference will be given to the ad publisher that claims for pre-install attribution. Pre-install attribution is done when the SDK itself intimates the attribution to a certain publisher. 

The second preference will be given to the publisher which fires the click and passes the Google Advertising ID (GAID) to the attribution platform.

The attribution platform will give the third preference to the publisher which fires the click but does not pass GAID. Instead, the publisher passes other details like IP Address, OS version, etc. This is called fingerprinting.

The fourth preference for attribution will be given to the publisher which fires an Impression URL, where no installation occurs.

In case there is no claim by any of the publishers, it will be marked as an organic install.

How Does an Mobile Attribution Platform Work?

After the SDK is initialized various data points related to the user are captured, for example, GAID, device model, OS version, etc. These parameters are added by the publisher. The data points are then sent to the attribution platform server, communicating to them that the user has been acquired.

On the other hand, once the Impression or Click URL is fired, these parameters are added by the publisher while claiming attribution.

With these two data sources for an install, the attribution platform then validates each data point and attributes the install to the publisher with the valid claim.


In summary, mobile attribution helps app advertisers save time and money by automatically collecting user journey data. Ultimately, marketers are provided with the actionable insights they need to drive profitable growth at scale.

The system of attribution is made so that app developers and advertisers benefit from both acquiring users and doing it most cost-effectively. 


Learn more about attribution through our Developer Desk series here.

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