Chapter 6: Mobile attribution

Mobile attribution is a first specialization chapter.

You won’t learn much of new SQL stuff from it, but a ton of Data Analysis techniques. The chapter introduces a concept of Mobile Attribution analytics, what it is and how it works technically.

You’ll learn how to use Mobile Attribution to analyze mobile marketing campaigns, measure CTR-s and conversion rates in mobile apps.

Most importantly, this chapter will cover a critical topic for all mobile startups: how to connect web and mobile funnels.

What is Mobile Attribution?

Think about how users install mobile apps. They either search for the app in the app store or they click an ad link that eventually sends them to the app store page.

We have no idea about what’s happening in the app store, since it’s Apple’s or Google’s property. It looks like a blind spot, but there’s still a way to figure out how users ended up installing our app. This way is called Mobile Attribution.

How Mobile Attribution works?

In short, there’s a middle man (mobile attribution provider) between our links and app stores. It allows us to record all link clicks.

The same middle man is also present in the app (Mobile Attribution SDK) and when the app is installed the SDK code is activated and sends a signal to the middle man (maybe a timestamp, device type and some other parameters).

A Mobile Attribution provider receives all signlas (link clicks and installs) and is able to match them, thus connecting installs and correspondent links. Having marketing campaign and other information encoded in the link URLs, we’re able to determine where our users are coming from.

You’ll see a lot of examples of raw attribition data from Adjust – one of the biggest mobile attribution providers out there.

What about privacy?

Of course, Mobile Attribution providers have to respect users privacy (otherwise they get sued big time).

There’re many layers to this. If users allow cross-app tracking (I bet you’ve seen this popup at least 20 times by now), then Mobile Attribution providers will send you IDFA/GPS_ADID – unique device identifiers. Via IDFA/GPS_ADID a device could be identified in any app.

Nowadays, almost everyone has turned off cross-app tracking, so the maximum information you receive is an original link URL and some device identifier that’s valid only for your app.

There’re ways to trick the system, of course. Eventually, it’s Mobile Attributions and your (!!) responsibility to respect users privacy and don’t share personal user data anywhere.

I’m not a data lawyer, so you definitely want to consult with your DPO (Data Privacy Officer) before you do something shady. Remeber, illega personal data practices may costs many millions and your reputatoin. Does it worth the risk?

Anatoli Makarevich, author of SQL Habit About SQL Habit

Hi, it’s Anatoli, the author of SQL Habit. 👋

SQL Habit is a course (or, as some of the students say, “business simulator”). It’s based on a story of a fictional startup called Bindle. You’ll play a role of their Data Analyst 📊 and solve real-life challenges from Business, Marketing, and Product Management.

SQL Habit course is made of 13 chapters (you’re looking at one atm) that contain 271 bite-sized lessons and exercises. All of them have a real-life setting and detailed explanations. You can immediately apply everything you’ve learned at work. 🚀

The 2nd part of the course is called Practice. It’s made of standalone exercises based on multiple datasets – E-commerce, Finance and Meditation app a-la Headspace or Calm. Practice exercises are harder than in the main course. They’ll get you ready for any challenge at work or an interview. 💪


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