A Complete Introduction to Android Apps Attribution

Learn all about Android apps attribution methods: Advertising identifier(GAID), IP+UA, SANs, SRNs,Channel-ID, Clipboard and Install Referrer API.

Marketers use mobile attribution services to study parameters like the number of app installs, events, and revenue generated with causes to understand the reach and success of marketing campaigns and strategies. The key objective of this process is to increase investment in those causes with the preferred impact.

Mobile attribution helps businesses and mobile developers understand and manage their paid marketing funnels better. The response of specific client segments towards targeted advertisements is valuable information. Marketing teams make use of this information to reevaluate their marketing initiatives and strategies. Let's look into android app attribution in detail. 

The Purpose of Android App Attribution

The activities carried out by a user on a website can be tracked easily, thanks to cookies. Playstore Apps don't allow these common tracking techniques, hence different types of tools are used to keep track of a user’s activities. This is where Android Attribution comes in.

Aside from improving comprehension of how a marketing campaign is doing, attribution is a requirement for advertising models like Cost Per Install (CPI), which are not otherwise achievable. Though there isn't a current industry standard for attribution methodology, there are a few methods using which android app attribution can be carried out.

Various Attribution Methods :

  1. Advertising identifier (Android ID, GAID):

    Advertising Identifier is a popularly used attribution method that generates IDs. Unique and user-resettable IDs for advertising are offered by Google Play services,like Android Advertising ID (AAID) and Google Advertising Identifier (GAID). It notifies when an ad has been viewed, clicked, or converted. The Google advertising ID is a device identifier for advertisers that enables them to follow user ad activity anonymously on Android devices for attribution. 

  2. IP+UA(User-Agent):

    This attribution method enables you to include filtering rules based on user agent and IP values. An application that connects to another computer over the network, typically a server, is referred to as a "user-agent." This feature helps understand more about the live campaign events by blocking the traffic specified in the filtering rules from accessing your campaigns.

  3. Self-attribution Networks (SANs) and Self-reporting Networks (SRNs):

    Some other methods commonly used for app attribution are SANs and SRNs. The advertising network that attributes its traffic without measurement partners of outside mobiles is known as "SANs". Examples of SAN platforms are Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and Twitter. Whereas SRNs, the install is attributed to the SRNs when they discover an impression or click for it. A third-party attribution provider, such as Branch, which receives attribution confirmation directly from SAN, does not participate in the SANs attribution process. The Branch monitors events related to app conversion and delivers them to the SANs.

  4. Channel-ID:

    The Channel-ID approach is widely applied when the app is distributed in different app stores/channels. Developers can use different channel-id for different app stores/channels in the app installation package. When there is a new user downloading the app, the attribution platform will identify the channel from its id. Analysis of channel-specific contributions to different portions of sales is called channel attribution analysis. Multi-channel attribution is gaining momentum in the recent decade because marketers are always curious about how their money is being efficiently used in different channels. The channels can be anything ranging from screens (mobile, computer, tablets) to sales channels (online, mobile, in-store, events). In mobile app attribution understanding what device has major downloads and what device has requested a lot of bug fixes.

  5. Clipboard:

    While using a clipboard framework for app attribution, data is entered into a clip object, which is then placed on the system's global clipboard. There are three different types of clip objects that guide the process of attribution:

    Text: A string of text. The string is directly inserted into the clip object and then moved to the clipboard.
    URI: a URI object that can represent any hyperlink. This is mainly used to copy complex data from content providers.
    Intent: A goal or intention. This enables the copying of program shortcuts.

  6. Install Referrer API:

    The ID used for ad tracking on Android devices is called an Install Referrer. An install referrer is a randomly generated unique ID, similar to Device IDs and Device Fingerprinting to identify the user. It is given to the Play Store when a user clicks on an advertisement, When the program is installed, the attribution partner receives the referrer and attempts to link the source with the install.


There are a few disadvantages when it comes to the attribution of Android apps. Mobile ecosystems like Android and iOS do not offer these standards and norms of attribution in the same way. The tendency of mobile ecosystems to be more constrained is epitomized by iOS, which offers the most constrained tracking choices.

The foundation of trust the attribution provider places upon the clients and business partners is crucial in providing attribution data as a service. 

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.

appflow.ai dashboard for app subscription data

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A Complete Introduction to Android Apps Attribution

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