Attribution discrepancies between AppsFlyer and the app stores

At a glance: Descriptions of the leading causes of attribution discrepancies between AppsFlyer and app stores, as well as tips to minimize discrepancies.

Attribution discrepancies

There are inherent differences in the attribution models used by all players in the mobile attribution ecosystem. The same applies to AppsFlyer and the main app stores: (iOS) App Store and (Android) Google Play. Note: In this article, the two stores are referred to as app store or app stores. 

Because of the differences in attribution models, in some instances, the app store records more installs than AppsFlyer. In other instances, AppsFlyer records more installs than the app store. 

AF_vs_app_stores.png

 Note

Discrepancies do not affect the accuracy of the non-organic installs count, because the AppsFlyer attribution model credits one install per ad click. This is true even for a specific user with more than one device registered in the app store.

Why AppsFlyer attributes less

Reasons for under attribution by AppsFlyer
Cause App stores AppsFlyer AppsFlyer tip


Install definitions

App stores record installs after the user downloads and installs the app, whether the user later launches the app or not.

AppsFlyer records new installs only after the first launch.

Users that never launch are not counted in AppsFlyer, even if they download and install (according to the App Store definition).

About 90% of mobile app downloads result in at least one launch, but this can vary significantly in different geos and verticals.

Install record date

App stores record the date of the download as the day of install.

AppsFlyer records the date of the first launch as the day of install.

In AppsFlyer, use longer periods of time as your queried date range to minimize this discrepancy.

Time zones

Data displays according to the local time zone of the advertiser.

By default, data displays using UTC±00:00 time zone. You can set the app-preferred time zone to reduce this discrepancy (details here).

Android user uninstalls and re-installs within the defined re-attribution window

In some views, Google Play shows two unique installs for the same user, regardless of the time that elapsed from the first install. Other views show unique users and therefore are more closely aligned with AppsFlyer.

Inside the re-attribution window (by default 3 months) from the original install time, the user is not considered as new on AppsFlyer when re-installing. You can set the re-attribution window from 1 to 24 months.

iOS user uninstalls and re-installs inside the defined re-attribution window


iTunes counts a new install every time the user uninstalls and re-installs.

Inside the re-attribution window (by default 3 months) from the original install time, the user is not considered as new on AppsFlyer when re-installing. You can set the re-attribution window from 1 to 24 months.

Why AppsFlyer attributes more

 

Reasons for over attribution by AppsFlyer
Cause App stores AppsFlyer AppsFlyer tip

Upgrading an existing app install from a version that did not contain the AppsFlyer SDK to a version that contains the AppsFlyer SDK

The app stores regard this as the same user; not as a new install. AppsFlyer shows the upgrade as organic installs.
  • This peak usually drops after a few days as most users finish upgrading the app.
  • New accounts may wish to migrate their existing users to AppsFlyer to prevent this peak

Device ID reset and Limit Ad Tracking Fraud

(over 50% of fraudulent installs use these methods)

App stores regard this as the same user; not as a new install.

AppsFlyer sees it as a new install on a new device.

AppsFlyer Protect360 anti-fraud solution detects if your app is suffering from these types of fraud.

Installs coming from out of store markets and pre-installs

These installs are not recorded by Google Play.

Installs are counted by AppsFlyer.

If you're advertising in an Out-of-store Android market, consult the documentation for the correct setup.

Was this article helpful?