Marketing Sales

State of the mobile attribution market; a Q&A with AppsFlyer's Elad Masiach

Oct 08, 2019


Adam Blacker

Oct 08, 2019

VP, Insights

Mobile marketing, advertising and attribution are massive components of the mobile app economy, components that are not necessarily Apptopia's bread and butter. Longtime readers of this blog will know we often have guests share their expertise here. Continuing our effort to bring those insights to you, we had the opportunity to speak with AppsFlyer's Chief Partnerships Officer, Elad Masiach, who spoke about the current state of mobile attribution and a peek into its future.

Adam: The green field for the mobile attribution market has shrunk considerably in the past few years. There are only a handful of power players, including AppsFlyer, which is the largest by SDK installs. Do you anticipate new competitors and/or consolidation in the attribution space?


Elad: There is a significant barrier to entry, that’s for sure. Just to make the point, the AppsFlyer of 2011 would never have been able to make it today. Why is the barrier so high?

  1. Partner integrations: To put it simply, integrating with thousands of partners takes years and there are no shortcuts. Not to mention getting certified to measure campaigns with the giants of our space (Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Snap, etc.) 
  2. Ability to handle scale: The size of both the ecosystem as a whole in addition to the infrastructure needed to support mega apps requires substantial R&D heavy lifting.
  3. Strict privacy and security requirements: To protect clients’ most important asset (their data) while making sure their users’ privacy meets uncompromising regulations takes a lot of effort to implement.
  4. Advanced market demands: As marketers become savvier, and as the market becomes ever more complex, the level of features and reporting is at a whole other level now. 

There was some M&A in the market as of late with Singular and Apsalar, then Tune and Branch, but at this point, I don’t expect more consolidation. The pie is large enough for the existing players.


Adam: What should developers be asking for next year that they may not know to ask for now?

Elad: Without a doubt, privacy and security. We’ve seen this time and time again with some catastrophic data breaches. Developers have top notch internal defenses on their data in place, but when it comes to third party vendors, the door is often easily breakable. This of course is very risky as the house is the same house, and if bad actors gain access through a backdoor it can be just as damaging. 

Therefore, developers must equate their first party and third party requirements, especially with those who have access to sensitive data. It’s also important to stress that we see constant change in this field. What this means is that it’s not enough to carry out an initial InfoSec process with a new vendor but continue doing it over time to ensure vendors adapt to the changing risks and evolving regulations. 


Adam: With the ads-app.txt protocol growing in awareness and adoption, is AppsFlyer seeing more advertisers looking for transparency into app-ads.txt compliance from their site-level data or ad network partners? Is this protocol on AppsFlyer’s radar right now? Where does it sit right now?

Elad: Clearly, transparency is super important. It’s vital to realize that it can come in many shapes and forms: For example, knowing who you work with if you operate via an agency, or which site IDs are used by your ad networks. 

When I say site IDs I don’t actually mean number strings that don’t mean anything to anyone, but rather providing visibility into actual publisher names so you are clear of exactly where your ads are running. Some partners already provide this and we see how important it is to their clients. It also helps them win business. 

Beyond that, transparency also means unified measurement standards. Just as I have written a couple of months ago, “Marketers promoting native mobile apps rely on sophisticated attribution models to gauge and improve ROI. But these models can fall apart when “clicks” and “views” are not measured consistently across platforms and networks.”

To help raise awareness and increase the level of transparency in the space, we led an initiative providing detailed information on how AppsFlyer’s top media partners — including Google, Facebook, Snap and others — qualify different types of engagements with ads they serve.  

Even if there is still no standardization, even the knowledge of how things are measured and attributed helps with protecting your brand, optimizing your campaigns and combating fraud. 


Adam: Will mobile attribution players expand outside of mobile? Are mobile attribution providers equipped to do this?

Elad: We launched our people-based attribution earlier this year. We are happy to say that the results so far are looking good. Other players are also pursuing a more holistic solution. Clearly, this is the holy grail of marketing, connecting the dots across channels to provide a seamless user experience. 

The promise has been there for years, but I think that the answer to this challenge is mobile, it is the device that is always by our side, and it is why mobile attribution companies are best equipped to overcome it. Think about it, back in 2012 mobile was extremely fragmented — multiple identifiers, multiple environments, multiple devices. 

Fast forward several years and we can clearly say that mobile is the most measurable ecosystem ever created. Connecting multiple devices and touchpoints to the same user is definitely a challenge, but having overcome the inherent fragmentation within a mobile device puts us in a great position to take on people-based attribution and make it work! 

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Adam Blacker

VP, Insights