Pascal Clarysse
Pascal Clarysse 20 April 2015
Categories Data & Analytics, Mobile

How To Track ROI On Mobile

All eyes are on mobile. Big data is in every conversation. How can you leverage data to track the ROI of your mobile-centric marketing campaigns?

All eyes are on mobile. Big data is in every conversation.

How can you leverage data to track the ROI of your mobile-centric marketing campaigns?

Traffic Source Attribution

The first thing you need to set up in your User Acquisition data-tracking system is Traffic Source Attribution. Since Apple and Google do not share referral data from their App Store and Play Store, you need to rely on third-party solutions for this. This is done by using special links that either track one of the available devices IDs when the user clicks on them, enabling tracking of installs and post-install events, after user turns on the app.

The leaders in the field are Tune Mobile App Tracking (MAT), with Adjust and AppsFlyer being their closest competitors. The decisive criterion when selecting which one is right for your business depends on how many Traffic Sources you plan to deal with in direct. TUNE MAT supports over 600 advertising agencies and ad-tech vendors, which makes it very robust for the big publishers marketing hundreds of apps. The others offer narrower groups, which represent the bulk of what you need in the beginning (and in many cases, forever). Most app businesses will indeed choose to focus on dealing with the top agencies in direct, either disregarding the opportunities from smaller agencies, or outsourcing mediation between them to a partner, like Glispa or PocketWhale.

Note it is still useful to integrate the SDK of your top traffic partners in your app build on top of third-party tracking. This is true for the Facebook SDK, which allows you to set up sophisticated segmentation and manage audiences. Other specialty SDKs may be relevant depending on your type of business.

To attribute cost data at the same time as traffic source for each acquired user, Tenjin is a handy tool that will save you a lot of time and hassle. Without it, you’d need to download cost reports from each traffic provider and then reattribute them after the fact, either manually or through in-house software. You can also look into AppAnnie Advertising Analytics.

User Behavior

MixPanel is a tool that allows you to set up various in-app events to track user behavior. You can then segment those users into cohorts based on multiple relevant parameters and analyze those cohorts over time. Combining cohorts with traffic attribution lets you compare user behavior between networks. This helps answering questions such as which traffic source offers the best ROI, short-term and/or long-term, which traffic source delivers better retention rates (or any other KPI that matters to your business), and most importantly, which unprofitable campaigns should be retired.

Besides marketing uses, MixPanel is also a very powerful tool for your design people to improve the product User Experience based on behavioral metrics, and for your head of monetization to fine-tune your in-app economy.

Currently considered the benchmark by most mobile industry leaders, MixPanel has numerous competitors in this field, including DeltaDNA or Omniata for example.


If you collect data from multiple touch points, you’ll need to rely on an analytics platform like Eclipse Data Tools to merge all the data up into a comprehensive report. Setting up advanced reporting with Eclipse will require the involvement of a Python programmer.

If you want to stay lean and mean, Tenjin offers a good enough entry-level solution, especially if you already use them for cost data.

Advertising Sales Mediation

If you monetize your app through advertising, then you also need to set-up media sales management in addition to the UA-focused system described above. To compare your vendors’ performance and assign priority between them, it is recommended to set up third-party mediation and filtering of all the vendors and agencies that fulfill your inventory. Supersonic and Fyber are two reliable leaders in this field.

App Store Optimization

Tools like SensorTower, Searchman, Appcodes or GummiCube DataCube focus on keyword optimization for App Store search. They let you view how you rank for each of your target keywords, give you correlated traffic estimates and suggest other keywords you should be targeting for your category.

SimilarWeb lets you analyze the origins of your organic traffic, both in-store and external, breaking it all down into what comes from search, charts, featuring placements, referring apps or even web sources.

Market Benchmarks

If you want to compare your app with competing apps based on installs, chart position or revenue grossing across stores and territories, you’d be well advised to use App Annie business intelligence data.

Be of note that all the ASO tools mentioned in the above paragraph can be used to analyze competing apps as well, and compare how they fare on specific queries, in comparison to your own performance.

Don’t Have an App Out? Make one.

This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a dedicated development team for this in-house. With the thousands of work-for-hire app development studios in this world, there is a solution for all budget sizes.

Having an app for your business has become a requirement for any modern day business in the same way having a web site became mandatory last decade.

Your app could be a mobile optimized replica of your existing web presence. It could be a cool free service that ties well to your business objectives and your target consumers’ needs. It could be a so-called advergame. At the bare minimum, you should at least have a gateway app that you treat in the same way you would treat a landing page on web. Optimize it for conversions to wherever you ultimately want to lead the customer and unleash the world of mobile data that awaits you.

Written in collaboration with Janos Perei, consultant in the mobile gaming industry, and Mobile Marketing Lead at Flaregames in Germany.

About Pascal Clarysse

Pascal Clarysse started looking for so-called Growth Hacks a good decade before the buzzword was coined. Clarysse used to be the marketing driving force at the iconic gaming retailer, where he was in charge of relentlessly spotting new trends, waves and magic holes. In recent years, he’s served as a marketing consultant for various mobile gaming startups, participating in launching mobile games on the App Stores and the occasional Kickstarter campaign. Follow him on Twitter: @PascalClarysse

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