Adjust's attribution methods

Adjust supports several attribution methods based on how a user interacts with your ad and the quality of their engagement. Here, we review how each attribution type works, Adjust’s order of operation, and when each method is used. If you're looking for information on attribution window settings, click here.

What are Adjust’s attribution methods?

Adjust offers several attribution methods, depending on ad engagement and conversion type:

Conversion type: Install (first app open)

  • Engagement type: Ad click or ad impression
    • Attribution methods: Device matching; device fingerprinting

Conversion type: Reattribution (attribution reassignment for dormant app users)

  • Engagement type: Ad click or impression
    • Attribution method: Device matching

What is Adjust’s order of operation?

For app installs, Adjust attributes users in the following order:

  1. Ad click: device matching
  2. Ad click: device fingerprinting
  3. Ad impression: device matching
  4. Ad impression: device fingerprinting

Due to the deliberate nature of the engagement, Adjust prioritizes click-based methodologies. If no click(s) can be found for matching, then Adjust will employ impression-based attribution (if impression tracking is enabled). As of January 2019, the default setting for fingerprinting attribution is OFF. 

Device matching

Device matching requires a unique device identifier to be present at time of ad click or view.

Recognized device identifiers:

  • Advertising IDs - These are predominantly identifiers for advertisers (IDFAs) from iOS devices and Google Play Services advertising identifiers (GPS ADIDs) from Android devices
  • Device IDs - These include the Android ID and the IDFV (iOS)
  • Android referrers - These are unique tags generated and received (by Adjust) upon click and returned via our SDK upon install

Device matching allows Adjust to attribute with 100% accuracy. The following diagrams outline how Adjust conducts device matching with advertising IDs and with the Android referrer. 

Advertising ID matching (diagram)
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Android referrer matching (diagram)
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Device Fingerprinting

Device fingerprinting is Adjust’s fallback click-based attribution method. This means that fingerprinting is only used to attribute installs to clicks or impressions recorded without a valid device identifier. As a result, Adjust must rely on some device characteristics that are subject to frequent change.

The details Adjust relies on for device fingerprinting include:

  • Device type (e.g., Google Pixel XL)
  • Operating system (e.g., Android)
  • Operating system version (e.g., 7.1.2)
  • Language (e.g., en)
  • IP address (e.g., 77.185.208.234)
  • User agent

While much of this information remains consistent, a user’s IP address, for example, changes often. When a device is carried between the office, home, a coffee shop, etc., each new WiFi access point provides the device with a new IP address.

If any of the above device details change between a click and install, the click is disqualified for attribution.

As of January 2019, the default setting for fingerprinting attribution is OFF. All existing apps and trackers will retain their current attribution settings (they will be relabeled CUSTOM), but you must manually turn fingerprinting attribution ON for all new apps and trackers added after this date. All trackers created after this date will inherit their app level settings, meaning that if you have manually enabled fingerprinting for your entire app, the tracker will automatically receive fingerprinting attributions. As a reminder, custom attribution settings at the tracker level always override app level attribution settings.

The following diagram outlines how Adjust conducts device fingerprinting for attribution.
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Note: Impression-based device fingerprinting is not automatically enabled and must be activated per app within your app’s attribution settings or on a tracker-by-tracker basis using the Adjust Campaign Wizard.

Reattributions

Reattribution occurs when a user engages with a tracked source and returns to your app following a continuous period of inactivity (i.e., no sessions in your app). Adjust reattributes users from ad clicks via device matching or deeplinks; we do not use device fingerprinting for reattribution.

There are two factors that Adjust considers when deciding whether to reattribute a user (both can be set in the Adjust dashboard):

  • Inactivity period
  • Reattribution window

The inactivity period determines how long a user must be dormant in your app before they become eligible for reattribution. This is set in consecutive days.

The reattribution window determines how long an Adjust-tracked engagement will be considered an eligible reattribution source.

If a user meets the inactivity period and reattribution window specifications, and their click is recorded with a valid advertising identifier, they will be reattributed within Adjust.

Attributing impressions

Impression matching is based on ad views. Impression attributions are made only when there is no click data available for attribution. Impressions are matched via device matching or device fingerprinting. By default, we use device matching. This means that we will only attribute via an impression if it is recorded with an advertising ID, device ID, or app store referrer. However, you can enable impression attribution via fingerprinting using your app's attribution settings or on a tracker-by-tracker basis using the Adjust Campaign Wizard.

To enable impression-based attribution, you must be running impression tracker URLs (e.g., https://view.adjust.com/impression/abc123) as generated within your Adjust dashboard.


There are two ways to find your impression tracker URLs:

  • Upon successful tracker generation in the Campaign Wizard
  • By navigating to your app in the dashboard, selecting the app options caret (^), going to Tracker URLs, and selecting the settings (gear) icon beside a tracker name

Attributing TV campaigns

TV attribution is the method of attributing mobile app installs to TV impressions. To get started, turn on Adjust’s integration with any TV tracking partner in your app’s partner setup. Adjust is fully integrated with a variety of TV partners, such as Admo.TV, Teads, and TVSquared.

Note: TV tracking attribution is available with Business Pro and above packages.

After attributing your data, Adjust sends your organic installs to any connected TV partners. The TV partner has 7 days to make attributions based on their own criteria and resources. If the TV partner claims an install, we confirm that their attribution data meets our requirements, then update the attribution from organic to TV on your Adjust dashboard.

Only organic installs (i.e., installs that Adjust can’t attribute to a click or impression) are eligible for TV attribution.

How do TV tracking partners make attributions?

TV attribution methods vary from partner to partner. Here are some of the ways TV partners make attributions:

  • By comparing the volume of user engagement after a TV campaign to the typical volume of user engagement for that region, time, and/or day
  • An algorithm that analyzes the probability that a specific user was influenced by a TV campaign
  • Audio fingerprinting technology that identifies the audio track of a TV campaign

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