A Complete Introduction to IOS Apps Attribution

This blog includes all you need to know about before starting attribution for your iOS apps.

If you work in the app business, you might be aware of the significance of mobile attribution and app analytics. It is crucial to understand how users find your app and what they do once they are there.

In digital marketing, attribution is the practice of deciding what gets credit for the final conversion. An attribution tool is a technology that makes this happen, but choosing the right one is no easy task. They all have different strengths and specialties and different price points, so before diving in, you should understand the context in which they operate.

Before we get into the attribution tools themselves, let's go through what they are and what they do.

What is Mobile Attribution Tracking?

Mobile attribution monitoring entails gathering data from mobile touchpoints and associating consumer behaviors at these touchpoints. These can be done with the help of marketing campaigns. Many multi-touch attribution technologies can monitor mobile attribution, however, some are mobile-only and others are desktop-only.

Approaches for iOS attribution:

1. IDFA  

IDFA stands for identification for advertisers on Apple mobile devices (iPhones), Apple's Identifier for Advertisers, assigns a unique ID tag to devices to allow ad monitoring. An IDFA allows an advertiser to be alerted when a phone user does an action such as clicking on an ad or installing their app. Apple established the IDFA to track advertisements.

Apple announced revisions to its AppStore privacy restrictions on June 24, 2020, at the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. They gave explicit instances of what it considers "tracking". For example:

  • Displaying tailored advertising in your app based on user data acquired from other firms' apps and websites.
  • Sharing a list of emails (or hashed emails), advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network to retarget those users in other developers' apps or find similar users.

Any type of identity-based monitoring to identify users across applications will need an explicit opt-in via the AppTrackingTransparency API. So apple killed the IDFA approach. 

2. SKAdNetwork

SKAdNetwork is an Apple framework for measuring app install conversion rates. The impression event is decoupled from the actual program installation, eliminating the requirement for user identification. It uses an end-to-end attribution mechanism regulated by the App Store to confirm each attribution using a cryptographic signature issued to the ad.

Simply said, SKAdNetwork allows advertisers to track the effectiveness of their ads while maintaining end-user privacy. SKAdNetwork provides a straightforward, consistent alternative to IDFA-based attributions.

SKAdNetwork Limitations:

Post-back scheduling:

Postbacks will be produced and emailed within 24 hours of installation. This prevents the installed app from attempting to identify users at the device level. Real-time optimization will be outdated, and networks' capacity to optimize campaign performance would be affected.

Problems in implementation:

There are also difficulties in implementing SKAdNetwork, which requires publisher applications to actively register the permitted ad networks in a newly published version of the app. This involves doing development work whenever you wish to work with a new ad network.

Deferred deep-linking:

SKAdNetwork does not provide a framework for deferring deep linking from advertising. This is a significant loss in terms of user experience and conversion.

No more impression tracking:

View-through attribution will not be supported anymore. For Apple to report on the ensuing actions, an ad unit must be clicked. Counting impressions and calculating the impact of supportive touches are long gone (outdated).

Post-installation activity: 

SKAdNetwork only enables you to transmit a single post-install event back to the ad networks, therefore linking in-app events to these install activities is not feasible with this particular solution. 

Workflow interruption:

Without access to the underlying data, any procedure that needs extracting the device-level information behind an aggregate report becomes impossible.

3. IDFA versus SKAd postback:

The IDFA postback contains the following information: 

  • Device ID of IDFA 
  • Transaction ID from the click that triggered the attribution.
  • Additional device data:


           IP address


          OS version

The SKAdNetwork postback contains the following information: 

  •  SKAdNetwork Campaign ID
  •  Publisher App Name / Bundle ID (only if Apple's secret privacy criteria are met)
  •  Conversion Value

What Exactly is an Attribution Tool?

Attribution tools aid in determining the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns and other marketing channels. They act as a bridge between your marketing tools and your website, app, or other owned endpoints, determining which acquisition sources are driving conversion and providing you with a thorough, full-story view of your customer journey.

You must monitor the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. You must understand your target demographic, the ad type and creatives, the channel on which the ad is appearing, and, of course, essential quantitative app metrics like installations and CPI.

Keeping track of all of them manually might be exhausting. That is why we propose using a mobile attribution tool to assist you to determine where your users are coming from and which campaigns are most effective for them.

How to Assess the Attribution Tools

When assessing an attribution tool, we often consider three major criteria:

  • The attribution tool’s number of integrations:

In general, the more integrations there are, the better. Your attribution solution should, at least, have an API that interfaces with your CRM, email provider, and SEO tools. 

  • How many devices are covered by the tool:

Some attribution tools concentrate on specific devices, whereas others cover a broad range. Depending on your company strategy, you need to pick the right one.

  • The platform's security:

 Your attribution tool will house the data of your end users, and any breach of that data will have major consequences. If your company takes privacy seriously (and it should), you should select a product with best-in-class security features.

  • What they do about over-attribution and fraud:

Every year, fraud affects the advertising industry billions of dollars and undermines a company's ability to make educated, correct advertising decisions. Choose a solution that takes substantial measures to detect and prevent bogus attribution.

Here below, We've chosen the top mobile attribution tools for you to consider.

Top 4 Mobile Attribution Tools for Recommendation


Appsflyer offers features such as multi-touch attribution, retargeting attribution, customizable attribution windows, and many more, allowing marketers to effortlessly and efficiently reach their goals.


The basic edition allows you to engage and communicate with your people, and whenever you decide to increase your marketing efforts, you can gain access to improved reports, alerts, and even dashboards.

Appsflyer also provides retention statistics and cohort analysis based on country and app version.


Adjust helps advertisers to track mobile attribution by offering insight into organic installations, ad clicks, and in-app events, all with an infinite look-back period. They also provide mobile analytics, audience growth, fraud prevention, and product removal and reinstallation.


While others detect it, Adjust prevents fraud. Their approach is preventive since it prevents data from ever entering a client's environment. They also purchased Unbotify, a cybersecurity startup that identifies and removes in-app bot fraud. 

It offers an easy-to-use dashboard where you can track network performance based on key mobile app KPIs as well as in-app events that you can manually customize.


Kochava's unified audience platform combines a mobile attribution tool, analytics, and a data management platform. When significant indicators change or install volumes fluctuate, it sends email, SMS, or PagerDuty notifications.


It is the only mobile attribution solution that will attribute installations without the requirement for their software development kit (SDK) to be deployed in-app, which means it can attribute installs through cloud integration rather than being loaded into the app itself.


Singular is a marketing intelligence tool that consolidates marketing campaign and attribution data into a single dashboard. Singular's scale provides intelligent insights for growth marketers, with over 2,000 integrations globally, partner connections with all the major ad networks, and over half of the top 200 grossing applications as clients.


Feature includes:

Cost aggregation for mobile and webs.

Campaign metrics are normalized and standardized.

Optimizes creativity across all media channels.


As you can see, several attribution platforms are well-suited to a wide range of different and distinct purposes. Many have simplified the deployment process, but they are focused on linking your marketing tools to your website, app, or any other owned endpoint. To properly exploit the benefits of attribution, your attribution solution must be compatible with your complete technology stack.

Appflow.ai makes it simple to deliver attribution data throughout your whole customer stack. For the time being, Appflow.ai allows you to send subscription events to any of your integrations to keep everything in one place. When a tool detects that a certain session, install, or event can be ascribed to a specific campaign, Appflow.ai can take that context and pass it to any of your associated destinations.


They are developing a method that will allow attributions from all Integrations services to appear on Appflow.ai.


You can conduct your study based on the size of your team, timeframes, and budget to evaluate which solution best meets your goals and go for it!

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