In mobile app install campaigns, we have to make a clear distinction between two attribution models: View-Through attribution (VTA) and Click-Through Attribution (CTA).
Each of which provides a different way of attributing an advertising campaign. Now let’s see exactly how both work in detail
View-Through Attribution relies on impressions and allows advertisers to attribute installs or post-install events to app install campaigns when users download the app shortly after having seen the ad but without having clicked on it. Enabling View-Through Attributions helps advertisers to include in their performance also conversions generated by impressions, even though this happens only if there are no clicks involved, because, in the attribution system, click is always a stronger touchpoint than impression is.
VTA lets advertisers understand whether impression based ads are successful or not by tracking the views on an advert across platforms and comparing it with the number of installs or purchases generated right after the impression (usually the attribution window is very short, i.e. a few seconds or minutes).
View-Through Attribution often worries marketers and makes them wonder whether that approach could hurt their organic app install. Meaning, does View-Through Attribution steal installs that are not brought by any marketing activity?
On the one hand, it is often stated that there is no way to directly link the viewing of an ad to the purchase intention. Indeed, the fact that there is no practical action, such as a click, between the display of an ad and the install suggests that there is no certainty as to whether an installation came from an organic search or whether it was prompted by the display of the ad.
On the other hand, we believe View-Through Attribution could play a major role in the success of your app user acquisition campaign because the short attribution window indicates the relevance of the ad, without stealing the organics. Furthermore, View-Through Attribution works also for post-install events and as a result, it can be useful also for CPA app campaigns. Consequently, thanks to View-Through Attribution you can actually run a successful app user acquisition campaign and increase your ROAS.
Click-Through Attribution, instead, counts conversions that happen after the user has clicked on the ad. It basically tracks the clicks on an advert and establishes therefore a precise link between the display of an ad and the install. For each attribution model a click is stronger than an impression, and if there has been a click the conversion will be associated with the click, regardless of whether one or more impressions have also occurred.
For example, if a person sees an ad, clicks on it and then subsequently converts, then it is assumed that it was the click that led to the conversion, and therefore the conversion will be attributed to that specific ad.
The most commonly used methodology for click attribution is Last Click Attribution.
Last Click Attribution measures which touchpoint a customer last clicked on before making a purchase. Marketers use last-click attribution mainly for two reasons: because it is easy to set up and use and because it provides important insights into an essential stage of the customer journey.
It is often said that data-driven marketing using the last-click attribution model may be flawed, or however, an incomplete approach nowadays. This method is not 100% accurate or precise, but is still the most widely used in app install campaigns.
Now, let’s look at some real world data: this screenshot refers to a campaign for one of the biggest betting apps in the US that in 2 months generated around 18,000 installs, attributed both through clicks and impressions according to the distribution shown in the graph.
As you can see, click conversions are higher than impression ones. But impressions still generate a good volume and you need to take this into account in order to make sure your campaign is ROAS positive.
In conclusion, both attribution models are needed and useful in the right situation, but, in the context of app install campaigns, neither is comprehensive enough to be used alone. For retargeting campaigns, click-through attribution provides a clear indication of the impact an ad has on the final app install campaign. With view-through attribution, the downloads of an app that has been advertised may increase during the associated advertising campaign.