Rich in-app events—Overview

At a glance: Record post-install rich in-app events (such as login, register, or in-app purchase) attributed to media sources and campaigns.

 Related reading

For a complete picture of working with rich in-app events, be sure to read these articles:

Why record in-app events?

In-app events provide insight into what is happening in your app and are the ideal tool to determine the value of app users and the quality of traffic originating from different media sources. Recording in-app events helps you measure KPIs such as ROI (Return on Investment) and LTV (Lifetime Value).

When users perform registrations, complete tutorials, add items to the shopping cart or make purchases, the in-app event data can record the events with the details. The implementation of in-app events is mandatory for all post-install analysis purposes.

About in-app events

An in-app event comprises an event name and can include event parameters. When you add event parameters to an in-app event, it is referred to as a rich in-app event. Event parameters provide you with more context and information about the occurring event. For example, while it helps to know that a user made a booking, event parameters can provide you with details such as the type of purchase, destination, and revenue.

travel.png

Predefined and custom events

In-app events that you want to send require your developer to implement code where applicable in your app. Event names and event parameters are classified as follows:

  • Predefined: These are event names and event parameters that are commonly used among different apps. We highly recommend using predefined event names and event parameters as much as possible for the following reasons:
      • Predefined naming allows automatic mapping of events to partners. 
      • If AppsFlyer decides to change the name of any event or event parameter, your implementation is backward compatible.
  • Custom: These are event names and parameters that you define for specific user scenarios that occur in your app. You can use any custom event name or parameter name string, but keep in mind that custom events need maintenance by your developer. See Tips and Limitations.

Sending events

There are several ways to send in-app events to AppsFlyer:

  • AppsFlyer SDK: This is the most common way to send events. You can send rich in-app events that record user actions in the app using the AppsFlyer in-app events API at the SDK level.
  • Sever-to-server API: Use the server-to-server API to send events that occur outside the mobile app, directly to AppsFlyer. For example, if you have a user who is active on both web and mobile interfaces, you can record events from both sources and attribute them to the same user in AppsFlyer. It can be either an in-app event or other events, such as website events, call-center events, or purchases in your brick-and-mortar store.
  • Receipt validation: This is a secure mechanism where the payment platform, for example, Apple and Google, validate that the in-app purchase took place as reported. Validating purchases is the primary tool to prevent fraudulent revenue events. It also helps you see what the real revenue is, and filters out incomplete in-app purchases. 
  • Hybrid apps: These apps combine native views and HTML content and can also record in-app events. However, because the SDK can only send events from the native side, developers have to forward all event data to native code.

Setting up in-app events

The process of setting up in-app events requires that the marketer and the developer work together as follows:

Step Role Task Details

1

Marketer

Determine the in-app events that you want to measure. Define and communicate the event names and event parameters to your developer.  

It is recommended to start with 3-5 events that you can use as KPIs to measure the quality of your users (for example, purchases, registration, and sharing). Event parameters are optional, and you can use any event parameter with any event name.

See Recommended events by business vertical for typical in-app events.

2 Developer

Implement code in your app where applicable. 

Developer documentation is here.

3 [Optional] Marketer Work with your developer to set the Customer User ID field (CUID)

This field helps enrich in-app events data by cross-referencing AppsFlyer attribution data with your other data using the CUID as a key.

4 [Optional] Marketer Map events to relevant partners in the dashboard.  This is an ongoing task, depending on the partners you integrate with.

Defining an in-app event

Once you determine the in-app events that you want to measure, use our In-app event generator to define the events and parameters as follows:

  1. Select an event name that is most suitable to the scenario you want to record.
  2. Select the event parameters that you want to associate with the event. Choose parameters that will provide additional context to the event and enrich the data.
  3. Download the completed file from the in-app event generator, and then share it with your developer.

 Example

A marketer for an eCommerce app wants to record the type of content users view in order to better understand what categories are the most popular and connect product views with product sales.

The following table shows an example of the event structure the marketer passes to the developer:
Event name Event parameters Parameter values When is the event triggered?
af_content_view af_price Product price

When a user views a specific product details page

af_content_type Name of the product category, for example, shoes
af_content_id

Product ID, for example, SKU

Recommended events by business vertical

The following table provides links to articles that include examples and flows of the typical in-app events we suggest recording per vertical.

Business vertical Article title
InApp_Events_games.png  Recommended gaming app events
InApp_Events_ecommerce.png Recommended eCommerce app events
InApp_Events_streaming.png Recommended entertainment app events
banking.png Recommended finance and banking app events
InApp_Events_lending.png Recommended P2P lending app events
education.png Recommended online education app events
InApp_Events_ride.png Recommended ride-hailing app events
InApp_Events_flight.png Recommended flight booking app events
InApp_Events_hotel.png Recommended hotel booking app events
5669_Healthcare_icon_3.png Recommended healthcare app events
telecommunications_icon.png Recommended telecommunication app events
InApp_Events_eWallet.png Recommended eWallet app events

View in-app event data

In-app events are attributed to the media source responsible for the install throughout the lifetime of the user. Event data is presented as Life Time Value or Activity data

You can view your in-app event data in these locations:

  • Dashboard overview page: Displays real-time LTV user acquisition (UA) performance
  • Events page: Displays LTV in-app event performance across media sources
  • Raw data in-app event reportDisplays activity data, meaning, a chronological list of the actions performed by your entire user base. This report includes event parameter values, for example:
    {
      "af_level":"10",
      "af_score":"3387",
      "arena":"7",
      "char_type":"paladin"
    }

    Note that raw-data reporting is a premium feature.

Tips 

Keep in mind the following when adding event names and parameters:

  • For data consistency in raw-data reporting, we recommend defining and using the same in-app event names and structures across all platforms.
  • It is important that you ensure the privacy of your users. Don't populate in-app event values with restricted data that can directly identify them. For example, email address, name, identity number, and in some locations postal code. For more information about restricted data, read the services privacy policy.
  • Note that AppsFlyer collects the IP address of devices during engagements. In some jurisdictions or use scenarios, the IP address can be regarded as PII. We use the IP address to derive the broad geographic location (city, district level) of the device but not the specific address. If needed, you can select to mask IP addresses so that they don't appear in raw data reports. 
  • In-app events are the only source of revenue data in AppsFlyer. You can attach a specific revenue value to each event, and view it on your app's dashboard. Learn more about the monetizing parameters.

    revenue_data.png

Limitations

Keep in mind the following when adding event names and parameters:

  • We recommend using only lower-case alpha-numeric characters (a-z and 0-9) for your in-app event names. Event names are case sensitive, meaning that af_purchase and af_PURCHASE are two different events in the raw data. However, in aggregate reports (for example, Overview, or Events) they can be displayed as a single event. 
  • Event names cannot begin with these characters: ", =, +, -.
  • Event values should not exceed 1000 characters. 
  • If you include the referring URL as an event value, it must be URL encoded.
  • Facebook has some limitations regarding event names and parameters. Read about the limitations here.

FAQ

The following section includes various FAQ about in-app events.

How do I use the revenue parameter?

You can send revenue values with any parameter name and event. However, to register the revenue (including negative revenue) in the AppsFlyer raw and aggregated data, you MUST use the af_revenue parameter. Always use it with in-app events that represent actual revenue generation in your business logic.

af_currency represents the currency that is stated in af_revenue (or af_price). If af_currency is missing from the event's parameters, AppsFlyer sends it with the default value "USD".


For more information about the af_revenue parameter, see the Revenue Attribution guide.

Are events recorded if a device is offline?

If a user initiates an event when the internet connection is unavailable, AppsFlyer is still able to record it. This is how it works:

  1. SDK sends the events to the AppsFlyer servers and waits for a successful response.
  2. If the SDK doesn’t receive a successful response, the event is stored in the cache.
  3. Once the next successful response is received, the stored event is sent to the server again.
  4. If there are multiple events in the cache, they are sent to the server, one after the other.

 Note

The SDK cache can store up to 40 events, which means that only the first 40 events that happen offline are saved. Everything that follows, until the next successful response, gets discarded.

The event time that displays in the raw data is the time the event is sent to AppsFlyer after the device goes online again. It is not the actual time that the event takes place.

What are complex in-app events and how do I set them up?

Complex in-app events enable sending multiple events in a single API call.

They are useful when you want to see several closely related user actions grouped together (for example, adding several products to the basket in a single session).
Example:

{
  "af_revenue":"50.87",
  "af_currency":"USD",
  "af_receipt_id":"57601333",
  "product":[ 
   { 
	 "af_content_id":"1164_8186",
	 "af_price":"8.97",
	 "af_quantity":"1"
   },
   { 
	 "af_content_id":"1164_8186",
	 "af_price":"8.97",
	 "af_quantity":"1"
   },
   { 
	 "af_content_id":"1164_8186",
	 "af_price":"8.97",
	 "af_quantity":"1"
   },
   { 
	 "af_content_id":"1177_8185",
	 "af_price":"8.97",
	 "af_quantity":"1"
   },
   { 
	 "af_content_id":"0153_9077",
	 "af_price":"14.99",
	 "af_quantity":"1"
   }
  ]
}

 Caution

Complex in-app events cause postback issues with Facebook and Criteo. If you need the event to be fully mapped with Facebook and Criteo, send separate events per user action (for example, send an Add to cart event per each added item). Use the in-app events raw data to group these events together.

Can I add multiple items to a single transaction?

You can add multiple items to a single transaction. Instead of single values per event parameter, you can have an array of items describing the transaction, separated by commas. The format should be a JSON string.

 Example

In the same transaction, Mr. Smith purchases two identical shirts, one pair of shoes, and a hat from a US-based online store. The sequence in which each item is listed must be identical for each parameter.


"{\"af_content_id\": [\"123\",\"988\",\"399\"], \"af_quantity\": [\"2\",\"1\",\"1\"], \"af_price\": [\"25\",\"50\",\"10\"], \"af_revenue\": \"110\", \"af_currency\": \"USD\"}"

Multiple items are sent onward as an array in postbacks. Currently, Facebook and Twitter can't parse array parameters correctly. To assist with this issue, AppsFlyer sums up the number of items (af_quantity) instead of sending it to these SRNs as an array. In our example, Facebook would get af_quantity=4.

 Note

Multiple items can be used with the following in-app events:

af_add_to_cart, af_add_to_wishlist, af_tutorial_completion, af_initiated_checkout, af_purchase, af_rate, af_spent_credits, af_content_view, af_travel_booking, af_update

How does AppsFlyer handle event deduplication?

We have an in-app event deduplication mechanism. It checks all in-app events to see if there was an identical in-app event that came from the same appsflyer_id less than 10 seconds beforehand. If such an event is found, the mechanism removes the duplicate.

Two events are considered identical if the following fields in both events are the same:

  • Event name
  • Event value
  • App ID
  • AppsFlyer ID

 Note

Deduplication works only for in-app events which are sent from the SDK.

S2S in-app events don’t get deduplicated.

How long does AppsFlyer retain user-level data and what are the deletion obligations?

AppsFlyer retains user-level (raw-data) for 24 months except where otherwise directed, required, or allowed by law. Some SRNs/partners require attribution providers, including AppsFlyer, to delete SRN/partner-related user-level data before the expiry of the 24 month period.

After deletion, events related to deleted users display as organic. Past aggregate data is not changed. For more information, see Data retention and deletion obligations.

Do I need to add the OS (operating system) parameter to my events?

  • The Android SDK and iOS SDK automatically add the OS (operating system) parameter.
  • For the S2S API, starting July 1, 2021, you must send the OS (operating system) parameter for iOS apps. If you do not send this parameter, data is regarded as having come from an iOS 14.5 user, and this impacts the way raw data is made available.
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