View-Through Attribution

Mapendo Team
April 13, 2022
View-Through Attribution


Mobile App Marketing relies on sophisticated attribution models and technologies in order to assess the performance of app install campaigns and media sources like ad networks and DSPs. View-through attribution is one of the three main attribution models together with last touch attribution and multi-touch attribution.

What is View-through attribution?

View-through attribution, also known as VTA, is an attribution model used by Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) to attribute actions such as installs and in-app events to the app install campaigns and sources which have generated them. MMPs use three attribution models to measure app install campaigns:

  • Last touch: the action is attributed to the channel responsible for the last click before the chosen event;
  • Multi-touch: all the channels responsible for ads engaged by the users share the credit for the action;
  • View-through: the action is attributed to the ad shown to the users, if there had not been a click. 

View-Through attribution differs from the other models because it relies on impressions and not only clicks. Therefore, when users are shown ads and do not click on them but download the app promoted, the last ad shown to the users gets credit for the install or the post-install event. There are only two conditions necessary for view-through attribution to work successfully: the install or in-app event measured must happen within an attribution window; there are no clicks on the ad before the install or in-app events. The second condition is due to the assumption that the click is a stronger touchpoint than an impression and it always prevails on it.  

Why is it important?

View-through attribution is extremely important in app install campaigns because it provides advertisers and marketers with a better understanding of the performance. Indeed, when view-through attribution is not enabled, MMPs measure only installs and in-app events generated by clicks on ads, thus not including those actions prompted by ads not clicked by users. These analyses can be misleading and some app install campaigns can show apparently poor results while having many installs and post-install events generated through impressions.

Therefore, by enabling view-through attribution, advertisers have a bigger picture of their app install campaigns and also an additional tool to better assess the Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) of their marketing activities. The main reason behind the reluctance of view-through attribution is the assumption that it steals organic installs and in-app events, making advertisers pay for those events which would have taken place even without paid activities. However, ads shown to users play a significant role in their following decision to download an app and, moreover, to make sure that the ads prompted the installs, the attribution window between the impression and the install is really short and it usually lasts a few minutes only.

What you need to know about view-through attribution?

  • View-through attribution is an attribution model used by MMPs to measure app install campaigns;
  • View-through attribution relies on impressions and not only clicks;
  • By enabling VTA, advertisers can better evaluate their app install campaigns and assess their ROAS;
  • View-through attribution has a shorter attribution window compared to click-attribution models, and this is to make sure it attributes only non-organic installs and in-app events.