The Fiksu Blog

Click-through vs. view-through attribution: which should you use?

To measure the effectiveness of paid app install marketing, advertisers need to track the performance of their ad creatives across multiple channels and targeting options. To do that, you need to use an ID-based, closed-loop attribution solution. There are two main ways to “close the loop” with paid campaigns, however: click-through and view-through attribution. How do you know which is right for your campaign?

Click-through Attribution

With click-through attribution, a new download is attributed to an ad only if a user clicks on it. Nearly always there is a “click attribution window” – usually 14 days – meaning the download has to occur within 14 days of the click.

For example, if a consumer sees an ad, clicks on it, and later launches the app, it’s assumed that the click led to the download, and that installation is attributed to that specific ad.

View-through Attribution

With view-through attribution, you don’t focus on just the clicks; instead, you measure how many peopled viewed the ad and then later downloaded the app: there’s no ad click involved. Usually the attribution window is much shorter, typically just one day, but at most seven.

In this case, a consumer could have been interested in the ad, but didn’t click at that moment for whatever reason – an incoming text, bad reception, external distractions. Later, though, they remembered the app, and went looking for it in the App Store. The impression, then, impacted their download decision, so that download still gets attributed to the ad.

Multiple Paths to Download

Both of these methods are complicated by the notion of ‘multiple paths to download’. For example: on Monday, John clicks an app ad on Facebook, but doesn’t download; on Tuesday, he clicks on an ad for the same app from Adwords and downloads. Which source should get the credit for the download? Facebook for initiating the interest, Adwords for the last click, or some percent to each?

For the most part, click overlap is rare, as it requires somebody to click on two different ads for the same product within a short time frame. View-through overlap, though, is more likely to occur, given that viewing an ad is a more passive activity, and there are a lot more impressions served than clicks (average click-through-rates across all channels are around 1% in mobile).

For instance, John may have scrolled right past your ad in his Facebook feed, and then two hours later see a similar ad on Twitter, click, and download it. In this case, Facebook would claim the view-through, and Twitter would claim the click-through. The odds of this scenario will increase substantially if you are spending at high volume across multiple sources.

Which Should You Choose

If you couldn’t already tell, view-through attribution is the more controversial type. Some advertisers ignore them completely, saying that it’s silly to give download credit to an ad that wasn’t interacted with; others say that repeated ad exposure generates interest and that ignoring these downloads leads to poorer long-term buying decisions.

Click-through attribution meanwhile is more definitive. If you want to be more confident that your ad directly led to the download, than this is the way to go. Of course, by choosing this method, it is possible that some potential downloads resulting from users seeing your ads, but not clicking on them, could go unattributed.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong solution, which is why Fiksu supports both. You need to decide which option is better for your business. Whatever you decide, at least now you know the difference.