Why Mobile App Tracking is an Absolute Must for All Mobile App Advertisers

. 3 min read

By: Tom Murray | Managing Director

At Jump, we have a wide variety of mobile app clients, and we’ve found that without mobile app tracking, you might as well not even try to run any paid acquisition campaigns and expect to be able to measure what worked and what didn't. Mobile app campaigns are extremely complex, and the user journey tends to be very fragmented. People may be introduced to your app through word of mouth, a TV ad, the web, etc. and eventually they will need to go to the app store and download your app.

Mobile apps are a bit different than regular website campaigns, in that there are no pixels, but SDKs (Software Developer Kits) for the tracking campaigns. This is a bit more complex code than a standard Facebook or Google pixel, and we find this is where the confusion starts. We get asked things like “Which SDK do we need to have in the app?” or “Can I just have the Facebook SDK?” or “How will the SDK track all the events that I would like tracked?”

Our advice is to go with best practices, which would be to install the Google and Facebook SDKs to ensure that the major platforms are integrated into your mobile measurement partner (MMP). An MMP is an absolute requirement, and we actually won’t run campaigns without them or else we would be “flying blind.” These partners, such as AppsFlyer or Adjust (which we are a Certified Partner of), allow us to track our campaigns into their granular conversion elements similar to pixels.

From there, we recommend writing down a list of all of the different events that a user can take in the app, especially in the sign up process. No event is too little, so basically every click / page should be included in this initial list. Once you have this list, start underlining the most important events that you would want to track and potentially optimize. These will be your first set of events you will definitely want to include. You could also underline crucial events that you might not optimize for, but something that shows a high quality user. This is because if it is tracked, you can create lookalike audiences off of those events that indicate high intent or value, to try to find similar users to those people. If you have the finalized list for the MMP, any other events could still be tracked in a custom server (i.e. from a company like Segment) that can track even more conversion events.

Here are some of the other things you can do if you are properly tracking users throughout the entire app:

  1. Retarget users who didn’t complete their sign up process
  2. Retarget users who signed up, but then did not do the first key transaction in your app (i.e. subscribe to a membership, link an account, play a game, etc)
  3. Deep link specific users to specific parts of the app to get them to do the desired action
  4. Exclude app installs and members from upper funnel prospecting campaigns (since the platforms typically won’t exclude these users on their own even if it is an app install ad and that user has the app installed already)
  5. Target users specifically who have not opened the app or completed a specific action in a certain amount of time to try to increase retention and stickiness

All of the above is only possible if your app tracking is set up from the beginning. We highly recommend getting this right BEFORE launching the app, instead of trying to figure this out once live. You will lose scaling opportunities, and all the money spent while tracking was incorrect will have been a waste, since no learning could happen from it. Mobile app campaigns tend to be very stable on Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and other channels ONCE they have enough consistent tracking data so it can properly optimize to find your ideal users.