In the rapidly evolving landscape of e-commerce, mobile marketing attribution has emerged as a critical strategy for success. Especially now that mobile drives the majority of online traffic, it’s crucial that advertisers have processes in place to track customers’ mobile journeys and optimize their performance campaigns.
Just look at the numbers: There are now over 6.7 billion smartphone users across the globe — that’s 80% of the world’s population. In 2022, 85-92% of customer journeys started on a smartphone device. And mobile-driven retail sales are expected to account for over 42% of total retail e-commerce sales in 2023, up from 41.8% in 2022. These figures underline the undeniable importance of mobile in the e-commerce landscape.
That’s why mobile attribution strategies are so important: They help marketers see which touchpoints are most effective and where to invest their resources. By gauging the impact of each channel and ad, brands can adapt their marketing strategies, maximize their ROI, and grow their business. They can also implement cross-platform attribution strategies to see how mobile and desktop perform together across the funnel.
To help, we’ll break down different types of mobile attribution models, top strategies for tracking mobile campaigns, and tools for attribution analysis so you can improve conversions and reach your campaign goals.
What is Mobile Attribution?
Mobile marketing attribution is the process of tracking mobile channels (i.e. social media, email, and apps) and user behaviors (i.e. clicks, conversions, and purchases) to link them to specific campaign results. Mobile app attribution, for example, is the process of determining which channels are responsible for driving mobile app usage and app installs.
Key Factors of Mobile Marketing Attribution
Mobile marketing attribution can be challenging — especially since today’s customer journeys span many touchpoints and platforms.
That’s why we’re outlining the three core components of mobile attribution:
- Choosing a revenue attribution model
- Adopting the right tracking methods
- Using data analysis and reporting attribution to optimize results
Attribution Models in Short
There are two main types of attribution modeling strategies:
- Single-touch attribution — Credit is given to only one channel or touchpoint in the customer journey.
- Multi-touch attribution — Credit is given to multiple channels or touchpoints in the customer journey.
Across these two types, the most common marketing attribution models include:
- First-click attribution — Credit is given to the first touchpoint in the customer journey.
- Last-click attribution — Credit is given to the last touchpoint in the customer journey.
- Linear attribution — Credit is given equally to all touchpoints in the customer journey.
- Time decay attribution — More credit is given touchpoints that are closer to the conversion event, i.e. towards the end of the funnel.
- U-shaped attribution — More credit is given to the first and last touchpoints, with less credit given to those in between.
- Data-driven attribution — Marketers use machine learning tools and Markov chains to identify customer behavior patterns and impactful channels along the path to purchase. This is the default model used by Google Analytics.
Each attribution model has its own unique strengths, weaknesses, and use cases. It’s important to choose the right attribution model to meet your campaign goals and avoid attribution errors.
Tracking Methods in Short
Marketing can use tracking methods — including various tools and techniques — to attribute credit to specific channels, ads, and touchpoints.
The two most common tracking methods are:
- Cookie tracking. Cookie-based tracking works by placing a small text file (or cookie) on a user’s device to track their activity across channels and touchpoints. This method is often used in web-based marketing campaigns. Google Analytics, for example, uses first-party cookie-based tracking.
- Device fingerprints. Fingerprinting creates a unique identifier for each device based on its attributes, such as IP address, browser type, and screen size. This method is often used in mobile app-based marketing campaigns.
Each tracking method has its own advantages and risks. On the one hand, cookie-based tracking can be less accurate than device fingerprinting. Because users can delete cookies from their browser, for example, or use multiple devices to interact with a brand. On the other hand, cookie-based tracking is less invasive than device fingerprinting and is more widely supported by web browsers.
Still, there are privacy concerns that come along with mobile tracking methods. Recent and evolving regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require marketers to be more transparent about how they collect and share consumer data. For example, marketers must obtain clear consent from customers and allow them greater control over how their data is used.
Data Analysis & Reporting in Short
This last step is arguably the most important. That’s because it involves analyzing and interpreting the data you need to understand and improve the performance of each channel. With this information at their fingertips, marketers can engage in data-driven decision-making.
Brands can use attribution data to determine which channels to invest in, which campaigns to continue running, and which ads to change or cut back on. Brands can also use data to A/B test different touchpoints to build the most effective customer journeys for their audiences.
For example, you may use your data to learn that X% of users have visited your blog before converting. To further increase results, you might funnel more resources into your blog. On the other hand, you may see that a comparatively small percentage of users are converting from your social channels. So you might decide to cut back on social spending and engagement, and invest your budget in higher-converting channels.
Third-Party Mobile Measurement Partners
You can third-party mobile measurement platforms to share server-to-server (S2S) data and more easily track your mobile app conversions.
Taboola, for example, is directly integrated and compatible with a range of mobile measurement partners, including:
Taboola advertisers work with these partners to improve mobile marketing attribution and track conversions from their App Promotion campaigns. Learn more about mobile app campaign best practices and S2S tracking on Taboola with AppsFlyer.
Final Consideration Under Mobile Attribution
Mastering mobile marketing attribution may seem like an overwhelming task. But done right, it can provide invaluable insights for optimizing mobile ad campaigns and driving revenue. Marketing attribution is also vital to understanding increasingly complex user journeys in a mobile-first world.
After all, the digital landscape is rapidly changing. So, marketers must be equipped with the right mobile attribution platforms and tools if they want to adapt and build forward-thinking strategies. For example, brands would be wise to experiment with data-driven attribution and start using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to gain greater insight into audience behaviors.
That’s why, on Taboola’s leading native advertising platform, marketers can choose the attribution model that works best for their campaigns. Taboola also provides comprehensive analytics reports, granular data, and audience insights. So you can dive deep into your customer journeys and continue to meet your mobile marketing goals at scale.
Start launching your mobile ad campaigns with Taboola.