Welcome to our third installment of Mobile Planet. If you are just “tuning in”, let’s get you caught up. Last we left off, our hero was exploring an ever-changing, ever-expanding marketingverse that was tilting mobile. Despite mobile’s gravitational force, two partner marketing factions — one born on mobile and one born on desktop — were stuck in a stand-off, unable to navigate around some barriers.  Spoiler alert — in today’s episode, we will discover that these barriers are actually quite solvable.  And like most amazing discoveries, the solution has been there all along, hiding in plain sight.

One important step for partner technology, one giant step for partner-kind. 

In the real world, if you are a Brand working with a Mobile App chances are someone in your organization may just be your own internal hero.  Bridging the gap between your mobile and desktop partnerships should not be a giant technological step for you; but, it should be a giant leap for your partner program and your ability to scale.  So, if you could turn your mobile partners into performance-based partnerships (beyond the install), why wouldn’t you do it?  

Can I be more direct?

  1. You need to do this! 
  2. You can do this! 
  3. You can succeed at this because the stuff you’re used to (cookies and pixels) have mobile analogues that are easy to use and you can start using today.

But, even more pressing, how would you do it? First, it’s best to level set on what the historical flow of a desktop transaction looks like.  This is the world of cookies:

  • Step 1: A user clicks on an ad discovered on a partner’s (or affiliate or publisher’s) website. 
  • Step 2: The user gets seamlessly redirected through the partner’s network, in this case, let’s assume it’s a TUNE-powered network. The click (and associated data) is recorded.
  • Step 3: The network, in turn, seamlessly redirects the user to the Advertiser’s website or landing page. 
  • Step 4: On the landing page, a cookie is dropped on the browser.
  • Step 5: An event (e.g., a purchase or sign-up) occurs and is recorded in the cookie, and a conversion pixel is fired back to the network to connect the original click to the conversion.
  • Step 6: In this case, assuming there is the only touchpoint , this event is attributed to the Partner and the Partner is notified.

Now, let’s play it out in the mobile world, so we can begin to see the parallels. 

Tracking

First things first, cookies simply do not work well in mobile. Cookies do not work at all for mobile apps, and with Apple’s new Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.2 release, they’re unreliable for mobile web tracking.  Good news, this is not a big problem, as the Mobile environments have long prepared for this change.  In order for tracking to work within Mobile, both apps and mobile websites use technology called Software Development Kits (aka, SDK) and communicate click and tracking events through server-to-server communications called “Postbacks”.  These SDK’s replicate some of the behavior found in the Cookie / Desktop world.  

Mobile Advertiser ID’s and Routing

App and mobile web SDKs enable accurate, ‘affiliate-grade’ attribution by allowing the following:

  • If the user is directed to an app already installed on their device, the app SDK can see the inbound click and all the data associated with it.  It can then connect every event that happens in the app right back to the click – allowing for perfect attribution.
  • If the user is directed to a mobile website on their device, the mobile web SDK can track the information on the inbound click, track it via cookieless local storage, and use this information to track future events on that mobile website back to the click.
  • If the user is directed to a mobile app that is not installed on their device, the app SDK can see the install once the user has gone through the app install process, determine what part of the app the user meant to go to when they clicked the ad, and automatically redirect them to the right location.  It can also determine what user clicked the ad, store this, and connect every subsequent event that happens in the app right back to the click – allowing for perfect attribution.

How is this done?  Via Advertising Identifiers and Deferred Deep Linking.  All iOS and Google Play-enabled Android devices have unique Advertiser IDs provided by Android and iOS that are attached to a user’s mobile device.  These IDs are unique to the device and user, and are a means to deterministically connect ad clicks in one mobile app and behavior in another. Because of these IDs, SDKs are able to deterministically match click to conversion – even if there’s a trip to the app store in the middle – which also allows them to put the user in exactly the right spot once they are finished their install.

Pulling it all together

Now that you have a better overall feel for how desktop and mobile are tracked, consider this analogy:

Cookies (pixels and browsers) are to the traditional web, as SDK’s (and Advertiser ID’s) are to Mobile Apps.

Let’s take it a step further.  Mobile measurement companies such as AppsFlyer, Branch, Adjust, Kochava, and Singular do the stitching and the attribution in the mobile world. They replace Desktop Cookie and Pixel. In some insider circles, this group is known as Mobile Measurement Partners (i.e., MMP’s).  They track mobile app events (i.e., install and post-install) through their proprietary SDK’s that sit on top of an Advertiser’s app and mobile website, much like the functionality of a Cookie (and its pixel). And they stitch the events all back to a singular customer identity, including all of the different touchpoints. Some companies can easily do multi-channel as well.

Now that you have a better overall feel for how desktop and mobile traffic are routed, consider this analogy:

Smart Linking is to desktop as Universal / Deep Linking is to Mobile.

Since mobile measurement partners (MMP’s) do the tracking, they are uniquely positioned to do the routing of the user to the landing page.  Much like in the desktop world, where the network (via a destination URL) redirects users to a landing page, MMP’s are able to choose places for users to land depending on the context (i.e., downloading the app, sending the user deep to a landing page within the app, or sending the user to mobile web). 

Beam me up Scotty, will ya?!

If your company measures their mobile marketing with any of these mobile marketing partners, you can leverage TUNE’s technology (today) within your current partner program to go beyond MEASURING (i.e., attributing) partners to MANAGING (i.e., optimizing and paying) these partners. Setting up a partner program to bring together your mobile and desktop partners is not only achievable, it is easy.   And if you remember nothing else from today’s adventure, it should be this:

#1 – You need to do this! Seriously! Mobile partners are open for business. 

#2 – You can do this! Seriously! Mobile measurement can work, without implementing additional SDK’s in TUNE today. 

#3 – You can succeed at this because it’s the stuff you’re used to. Cookies and pixels have mobile analogues that make this imminently doable.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Mobile Planet if you want a solution to tie this altogether right here on planet earth.

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Author

Brian Marcus

Brian Marcus, TUNE’s VP of Global of Marketing is an experienced marketing leader, whose career evolved in lock-step with the emergence of eCommerce and digital media. Since 2002, Brian has been shaping the performance marketing community — as a digital marketer, as a platform owner, and as a platform evangelist. Brian launched into eCommerce leading customer acquisition at JC Whitney, a century old cataloger destined to move online. From there, he went on to build two global affiliate marketing programs and platforms, one at Google (GAN) and the other at eBay (ePN). Most recently, Brian was VP of Marketing at Teespring, a Selling and eCommerce platform for designers and creators.
Brian is a Chicago native, a Cubs fan, and a music fanatic. He now considers Seattle his home and spends his free time enjoying the Pacific Northwest with his family. He earned his BA from Grinnell College (in Iowa) and his MBA from the University of Chicago (Booth).



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