What is view-through attribution (VTA)?

Glossary View-through attribution

What is view-through attribution (VTA)?

Sometimes referred to as impression tracking, view-through attribution is the framework for measuring  impressions that lead to installs, or impressions that play a role in an eventual install. There is often a gap between when a user views an ad and when they actually install an app.

Without VTA, there’s no visibility into this journey, and installs may consequently be falsely attributed to organic or create the picture that a channel  is converting better on its own than it actually is. VTA means you get the full picture into the impact a certain ad or campaign has in leading a user to install. Via view-through attribution, you gain full visibility, and can see, holistically, which impressions drive, assist, and  influence installs and engagements.

How does view-through attribution work and what are the benefits?

VTA is crucial to measuring and comprehensively understanding overall campaign performance. Without view-through attribution, your organic installs will appear to increase and you’ll lose the ability to determine how valuable different channels and creatives are throughout the buyer journey. In short, VTA provides the entire picture and equips you with the information needed to make data-driven decisions around campaign optimization and ad spend allocation.

Here are a few of the key benefits of VTA for mobile marketers:

  • Determining which impressions drive installs, directly and indirectly.
  • Gaining a holistic, broad view over which channels are providing brand uplift and assisting power in your campaigns.
  • Providing access to the information needed to effectively assess upper- and mid-funnel performance.
  • Tapping into broad and then more granular overviews of the user journey.
  • Feeling empowered to increase budgets on certain channels to drive ROI and ROAS.

By taking all ads that were served in an multi-channel campaign into account with VTA, marketers can comprehensively understand which impressions influenced installs and conversions, where uplift has been provided, and which campaigns, ads, platforms, and channels assist each other. Marketing teams can then leverage these insights to decrease user acquisition (UA) costs and drive higher ROI.

View-through attribution vs. click attribution

The best way to strategically approach view-through attribution—if you’ve determined it makes sense for your business model and app vertical—is to use it in tandem with your existing last- or multi-touch click attribution model. Turning on VTA won’t impact your click attribution but will simply complement it for more robust campaign performance analytics and measurement.

Key CTA advertising considerations: The pros and cons of click attribution

Click-through attribution measures the install, engagement, or re-engagement that takes place when/after a user clicks an ad. It’s a clear and concise method of tracking the clicks on an ad and then attributing those clicks to an action or conversion. Using click-through attribution, an extremely clear path is drawn between a click and an event. It’s fast, direct, accurate, and doesn’t require a measurement window to assess before making the attribution.

While the attribution is straightforward, it does not provide the full picture of campaign performance or the journey to install. Think about it this way, if an install is attributed to Instagram, where the click took place, but the user saw an ad on a Connected TV (CTV) app earlier in the day, click attribution won’t take into account the role that the CTV played.

This is particularly important to consider if you’re running campaigns on visual platforms like CTV or video-first apps like TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. If you only employ CTA in this case, you’ll be led to falsely assume that Instagram is doing all of the work and leading to all of the conversions, which will likely lead you to allocate more budget to the channel. What you don’t see, however, is that the CTV ads are actually setting the scene and leading to a significant percentage increase in those Instagram conversions.

Key VTA considerations: The pros and cons of view-through attribution

View-through attribution gives you the oversight and insights needed to holistically and accurately assess campaign and channel performance. This means that the role of visual channels can be properly understood in the path to conversion and that the relationship between channels within a broader campaign can be essential to user experience and performance.

When used properly, VTA is also, fundamentally, an attribution framework that allows you to more precisely allocate your marketing budget, without over-investing in channels that only appear to be performing well. By having the full picture, you can more confidently scale campaigns and drive ROI, because the chain and path to conversion is made clearer.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that VTA won’t be relevant for all industries of campaigns. If you run ads for hyper casual games that are single-channel and aimed at driving immediate installs via direct click, then waiting out a VTA window doesn’t make sense. If, however, your industry and marketing approach take into account longer consideration cycles, branding, and exposure, VTA is crucial. This is probably most relevant for e-commerce, fintech, and streaming apps.

Realistically, however, view-through attribution will always include a level of ambiguity. Much of this can be mitigated by increasing the measurement window to at least 24 hours (though different verticals and campaigns will call for different windows) to ensure the clearest picture is gained. Via testing, you can find the sweet spot, as a window that’s too long could falsely credit long-forgotten ads, while shorter windows might not include a channel that was critical. Either way, the lack of a direct link to an action means there will always be some space for interpretation.

Adjust and view-through attribution

With Adjust, you can define your VTA attribution window on any impression or deeper interaction, allowing you to lengthen or shorten the measurement period as you see fit. Combined with analytics you can gain a deeper understanding of what works (and what doesn’t) with comprehensive tracking.

Within our dashboard you’re also easily able to separate click-based and impression-based installs for easier analysis. Furthermore, you can go partner-specific and choose who you’d like to advertise with from a variety of global networks.

For more information on view-through attribution, you can download our ebook Gaining visibility with view-through attribution: The mobile marketer’s playbook, here.

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