Device ID

Mapendo Team
June 10, 2022

In mobile app marketing, the performance and results of any app install campaign can be measured through different tools. One of the key elements that allow marketers to do so, is the device ID.


What Is The Device ID?

The device ID is a unique and anonymized identifier associated with a mobile device – smartphones, tablets, or any other kind of device. The device ID is made up of numbers and letters and it does not contain any personal information related to the user, such as name, address, email, etc.

The device ID is stored on any mobile device, and it can be retrieved every time an app is installed and launched. There are two main types of device ID: Apple uses IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) while Android uses GAID (Google Advertising Identifier). They only differ in the fact that IDFA is made up of numbers and capital letters while GAID is made up of numbers and lowercase letters as, apart from this, the working mechanism is the same.
In fact, any device ID is used to match a given action performed by a user with an ad campaign or an app install campaign. 

This mechanism is part of what is called deterministic attribution, which, unlike probabilistic attribution, provides 100% accuracy and a better understanding of the overall app install campaign performance. Deterministic attribution is made possible by tracking device IDs. In fact, deterministic attribution provides precise matches between some events such as install and post-install actions, to advertising activity - any app install campaign. 

However, since the introduction of iOS 14.5, Apple has given users the chance to hide their IDFA, making deterministic attribution impossible.
Following this important step towards user privacy, other methods that can be used for deterministic attribution include the use of machine learning algorithms, or SKAdNetwork. SKAdNetwork is a deterministic attribution mechanism implemented by Apple, measuring app installs and the overall app install campaign performance without accessing personal data. However, there are some limitations to this mechanism, as it can only provide a limited amount of data to be analyzed.



Why Is The Device ID Important?

The device ID is a key element in deterministic attribution, in tracing in-app activities and measuring the results of any app install campaign, without accessing users’ personal information.

The device ID is an important tool to analyze the users’ journey within the app and to match their actions with app marketers’ efforts and marketing activities.

The device ID, therefore, is a way to understand what users prefer, what is working, and what needs to be improved: through the use of device IDs app owners can better analyze the users’ behavior, what happens once they install the app, and how they engage with it.

Together with this, we need to remember the benefits of deterministic attribution, through which the match between two events is unequivocally determined - as opposed to probabilistic attribution, which is less precise and accurate.

Still, given the recent changes in mobile attribution related to privacy, probabilistic attribution will become more and more useful when deterministic attribution is made impossible if users decide to hide their IDFA.


What You Need To Know About Device IDs?

  • The device ID is a string of letters and numbers associated with a single mobile device;
  • The two main types of device ID are IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) for Apple and GAID (Google Advertising Identifier) for Android;
  • Device IDs are an accurate tool to match a user to an action;
  • For this reason, device IDs are key in measuring the app install campaign performance;
  • The device ID helps analyze the user journey within the app, their behavior, and preferences;
  • Given the recent changes towards user privacy, users may decide to hide their device ID, making deterministic attribution impossible;
  • In this context, other methods can be used, for example, machine learning or SKAdNetwork.