In the dynamic realm of app analytics, understanding how users discover and install your app is paramount. Google Analytics for Firebase (GA4) introduces robust App Install Attribution, shedding light on the sources and mediums driving installations. In a landscape marked by complexity, particularly with challenges like iOS’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT), GA4 stands as a beacon for insightful analysis and optimization of user acquisition strategies.

Navigating App Install Attribution Challenges: The advent of ATT on iOS introduces hurdles related to user consent and privacy. Skillful navigation demands meticulous configuration, adherence to ATT policies, integration of frameworks strategic utilization of deep linking for precise attribution analysis.

Distinctive Features of App Install Attribution in GA4: GA4 distinguishes itself by recording app installations as “first_opens,” reflecting the app’s activation. It offers diverse methods for attributing app installations, including auto-tagging, universal links for iOS, Android app links, Play Store Referral API for Android, Apple Search Ads installations from iOS.

Methods for App Install Attribution:

  1. Auto tagging:
    • For Google Ads campaigns: Utilize auto tagging to discern specific app or website clicks driving users to your app. Auto tagging, however, isn’t compatible with iOS app installs.
  2. Universal (iOS) and Android App Links:
    • Leverage universal links (iOS) or Android app links to track installations. Customize links with UTM parameters for detailed campaign analysis within Analytics reports.
    • Play Store Install Referrals:
      • GA4’s  includes the Play Install Referrer API, attributing clicks on Google Play Store app pages to app downloads on Android devices. Referral information is fetched from the Google Play Store.
  3. Apple Search Ad Installs:
    • For installs resulting from Apple Search Ads, GA4 logs a firebase_campaign event, providing data on source, medium, and term parameters.
    • Parameters:
      • Source: Apple
      • Medium: Search
      • Term: <keywordId from AdServices>
    • Framework: AdServices must be added to the Xcode project file for Apple Search Ad tracking.
  4.  Install Post backs:
    • GA4 allows integration with Apple’s for enhanced iOS app campaign measurement. Set up conversion value schemas in GA4 and use the Measurement Protocol to receive post backs directly from Apple.
  5. Manual Attribution of First Installs:
    • Manually capture source, medium, and campaign of a user’s first app install by sending a campaign_details event shortly after the install. The first_open event attributes the install to the specified campaign information.

Best Practices for App Install Attribution in GA4:

  • Enable auto tagging with Google Ads.
  • Ensure Google Play Store links have campaign details in the referrer.
  • Support deep links, including app links for Android and universal links for iOS, tagged with UTM parameters.
  • Fetch UTMs from deep links and send them to GA4 using campaign_details events.
  • Integrate with iOS App campaign measurement and attribution.

By following these practices, marketers and app developers can harness GA4’s attribution features to gain deep insights into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, unraveling the user journey leading to app installations. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into GA4’s attribution methodologies and practical applications in our forthcoming segment.

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