In this topic:

What is attribution?

Attribution in Localytics helps you find where your users originated. All app users come from somewhere—whether that’s a paid Facebook ad, a download link via email, or even organic traffic in the app store. To help you tell the full story of your users’ lifecycle, we have a feature called attribution.

Attribution helps you figure out the download source for your app, so you can better target new users in the future.

How Localytics understands attribution

You should think of Localytics as just a piece of your whole attribution puzzle. Our attribution features allow you to connect data from your current attribution partner (or partners) to give you a better picture of your customer lifecycle.

It’s important to note that Localytics should not replace your attribution partner but, instead, join in your data suite.

Attribution vs. acquisition

Sometimes attribution and acquisition are used interchangeably in the marketing world. But in our case, Localytics can help you understand users you’ve already acquired—and then we can backtrack through your acquisition channels to get a clearer picture of how those users interact with your app. At this time, our attribution feature is not built to help you acquire new users.

You should use an outside source for your acquisition product—and then Localytics can connect the dots to your current users via attribution.

Why attribution is important

Knowing what your users do in your app is only one piece of the puzzle. You’re likely tracking what your users click outside your app, and Localytics can take care of what your users do within your app.

Attribution allows you to connect these two siloed pieces of data—helping you to invest in conversions instead of clicks or installs.

Handle app store differences

App stores ultimately decide what information is available to your app, in regards to attribution. Google and Apple have different rules for this, so it’s important to make sure you’re following them each correctly.

Google allows you to use regular UTM data to pass information to your app from the originating URL. Apple does not allow for UTM parameters; for more information, see "Apple: let’s solve iOS attribution for good" on the Attribution website.

Types of attribution

Localytics helps you connect users to their attribution source through three mobile attribution methods:

Ad network integrations

Ad network integrations receive data from a third-party source.

Ad networks can communicate information about which URL devices clicked in order to download your app. Localytics then matches this information to report originating ad network and campaign. We’ll communicate that information back to your ad network, notifying them of the install. For more information, see Ad network integrations.

Ad-tracking vendor integrations

Like ad network integrations, add-tracking vendor integrations receive their data from a third-party source (in this case, the ad network), as opposed to Localytics.

Ad-tracking vendors don’t display ads themselves but pull together data from a variety of ad networks. From there, they’re able to determine the originating ad network and source through custom work.

They’re then able to relay that information to Localytics when the user opens the app for the first time. For more information, see Ad-tracking vendor integration.

Custom redirect URLs

Custom redirect URLs can come from Localytics! We’ll generate a redirect URL so that we can directly track devices that click the link. If we’re able to observe a matching device in our data, we’ll report the originating ad network and campaign. For more on redirect URLs (for non-integrated sources), see Custom redirect URLs.

Some terms to know

There are a few words that are used in the attribution space that are helpful to know before you dive in. The main two are postbacks and device fingerprinting.


Postbacks are a programmatic way for one system to communicate with another system. In the attribution context, Localytics will issue a postback to the integrated ad network once we learn that a new device has originated from that network.

By sending this information, the integrated ad network can keep track of how many users have actually opened the app.

In some cases, Localytics also supports event postbacks. This means that if you acquire users from app-install campaigns on select integrated ad networks, you can designate specific events tracked by Localytics that we postback to the originating ad network.

When a user you acquired from an integrated ad network completes one of the in-app events you designate, Localytics uses an API call to send the information back to the network.

Localytics supports posting back the event name; it does not support posting back attribute values or associated revenue values. Not all integrated ad networks allow for event postbacks. For a list of those currently available, see Attribution Partner list.

You should only select important conversion events to postback. Do not postback all in-app events, as doing so will dilute the significance of event postbacks as indicators of user value. Consider designating events for postback that indicate monetization (for example, user completed an in-app purchase), engagement (for example, user completed my app's tutorial), community contribution (for example, user rated an item).

Device fingerprinting

Redirect URLs work by briefly routing URL-clicking devices to a Localytics destination for an invisibly brief period of time, just long enough for Localytics to collect device information before redirecting to the intended download destination.

When available, Localytics collects standard advertising identifiers, which have the benefit of being definitively unique. These identifiers are not always accessible, for example, if you include URLs to drive downloads in email, mobile web, or organic social media campaigns. Notably, iOS has a more restrictive model that often makes traditional redirect URLs impractical due to the unavailability of devices' IDFA.

Given this, Localytics also supports a special type of attribution called "fingerprinting." Fingerprinting is functionally similar to traditional redirect URLs, except that rather than depending on a device's advertising ID, Localytics will retrieve a number of other device identifiers that are individually non-unique, but can be combined to create a single unique identifier, that is, a device "fingerprint."

This method has the advantage of allowing you to track installs that otherwise would not be trackable if you were to only depend on advertising IDs. A rarely observed disadvantage, however, is that under some idiosyncratic conditions outside our control, device fingerprints may end up being non-unique and therefore not function as expected; for example, if a high volume of people in the same area with the same device model download the same app at the same time.

Note The collection of identifiers for fingerprinting, as well as any advertising IDs used for attribution, is dependent upon those identifiers being made available for collection either through appropriate user consent, users' data availability, or any other third-party data collection and transfer rights.

As Localytics does not have a direct relationship with your users to confirm appropriate data availability, we cannot guarantee all data is available. It is up to you to ensure all appropriate bases required for collecting this data are in place, and the data is available for processing.