Smart Banners—mobile web-to-app (for marketers)

At a glance: Convert your website visitors into mobile app users with Smart Banners.

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 Related reading

For a complete picture of working with Smart Banners, check out these articles:

Smart Banners

Smart Banners

  • Display on your brand's mobile website to increase conversion rates for high-intent users.
  • Measure the quality of app installs coming from visitors to the mobile website.
  • Enables accurate web campaign-to-app mobile attribution for ALL media sources, including SRNs.
  • Smart Banners can attribute using click-through attribution and count impressions:

    • Clicks: A user clicks the Smart Banners and proceeds to install.
    • Impressions: When the banner loads (user sees the banner), it sends an impression count event to AppsFlyer. 

The flow works as follows:

  1. A user clicks on an ad and is directed to the advertiser’s mobile website.
  2. A Smart Banner displays on the advertiser’s mobile website.
  3. The user clicks on the Smart Banner and:
    • If the app is not installed, the user is directed to the app store to install the app.
    • If the app is installed, and Universal Links, App Links, and/or URI links are configured, the app is directly launched.
  4. The user reaches in-app content, in the context of the promotion.
  5. The user is attributed to the media source that showed the original ad.

Scope of work

Who's involved

Marketer and website developer.

Prerequisites

  • An AppsFlyer account with at least one app
  • OneLink template containing the app/s to be advertised using Smart Banners
    This is required by Smart Banners to direct your mobile web visitors to the correct app store pages according to the devices they use. 

Time required

Approximately 20 minutes.

Outcome

  • Website visitors clicking the CTA button are sent to the correct app store or web page based on their device.
  • Mobile app users clicking the CTA button can be deep-linked into the app.
  • Users are attributed from the click/install to the original media sources or to your owned media sources.

 Example

Mark is a marketer working for the successful food delivery service "Feed Me".
Mark wants to convert Feed Me's mobile website visitors into app users. 

To do this Mark utilizes Smart Banners using his own visuals and texts.  

Smart Banners are powered by OneLink. When mobile website visitors click the CTA button, it automatically directs them to the appropriate app store or landing page, where it's easy for them to install the app. When existing mobile users click the CTA button, it launches the app. 

AppsFlyer then attributes the click/install to Mark's defined media source and campaign

 Important!

Use either AppsFlyer Smart Banner or iOS Safari smart app banner, but not both. Using both may cause display issues on your mobile website, and result in attribution discrepancies.

Procedures

Complete the following procedures to set up a smart banner that:

  • Directs users from your mobile site, via a Smart Banner, to the correct app store or app page based on their device.
  • Attributes the click/install to your owned media source using OneLink.

1. Website workplace setup

To prepare your mobile site to display Smart Banners

  1. In the AppsFlyer dashboard, go to Experiences & Deep Linking > Web-to-app > Smart Banners
  2. Click Create website workplace.
  3. Enter a website workplace name.
  4. Click Create.
    The website workplace opens. 
  5. Copy the banner Code snippet
  6. Implement the code snippet on your website. This task is done only once per website.
  7. [optional] Copy Web key. (This key already exists as part of the code snippet.)
  8. Click Continue.

2. Banner group setup

Banner groups contain one or more banners. Here you can:

  • Select the OneLink template used by the banner group, which contains the mobile apps to redirect your website visitors to.
  • Set a specific deep-linking scheme
  • Define your targeting rules, scheduling, behavior, and attribution details used by all banners of the banner group.
  • Set which pages activate the banner group's banners when visited.

To set up a new banner group:

  1. In the AppsFlyer dashboard, go to Experiences & Deep Linking > Web-to-app > Smart Banners
  2. On the left-hand side, click Add banner group.
  3. Enter a unique Banner group name.
    The name should reflect a general common theme between the Banners to be defined for the banner group (e.g., the advertised app).
  4. Select the OneLink template for the banner group.
  5. [optional] Set URI scheme for the banner group as a fallback for Universal Links and Android App Links users. This is rarely needed as, by default, the value is taken from the OneLink template. Set this for the banner group only if you need a different value than the one in the template.
  6. Set the primary and fallback Attributed sources to be attributed with new installs coming from this banner group. Use the following table to pick the best option for the custom link.

    Option When to select Comments
    Use UTM parameters  Select when most non-organic visitors get to the mobile website from sources with UTM parameters. 
    • Media source name (pid) = UTM_Source 
    • Campaign (c) = UTM_campaign
    • If the UTM_source or UTM_campaign are missing, the static names are used as a fallback.
    Use incoming attribution link parameters  Select when most non-organic visitors get to the mobile website from click ad networks that use AppsFlyer attribution links. 
    • All available parameters from the incoming AppsFlyer attribution link are added to the Smart Banner link. 
    • If a parameter exists in both the incoming AppsFlyer attribution link and the Smart Banner, the incoming parameter takes precedence in the final custom link.
    Add another attribution parameter  If you want, add additional website-related attribution data. This enables granular analysis of every install.  For example, for eCommerce sites create identical custom links for every product category type, that differ by af_adset values (for example: "af_adset=fruit") 
    Use default attribution parameters 
    • Select when:
      • Most mobile website visitors are organic.
      • Non-organic visitors don't get to the website from click ad networks or from sources with UTM parameters.
    • You can customize the parameter values.
    Important: Best practice is to select UTM or incoming attribution link parameters, since the default Smart Banner attribution parameters are anyway used on the custom link as a fallback if the media source, campaign, or channel names are not available.
  7. [Recommended] Set the default attribution parameter Channel name to attribute all installs coming from the Smart Banner to the specified channel. This enables you to aggregate information from multiple media sources under the same channel in the Cohort report, Overview dashboard, Retention report, and more. 
  8. [Optional] Set the Dismissal behavior, that is, the minimum time allowed between a user dismissal of one banner in the group, until the same banner may be displayed again to the user. Select from one of the following:
    • By time: 1 hour, 1 day, or 1 week.
    • Next session: meaning the session that takes place in a different tab or window, after the user closes the banner.
    • Never: the banner is not shown again. 
      Note
      • If the user clears the browser cache or views the site in private browsing mode the Dismissal Behaviour setting is lost.
      • The dismissal behavior is applied to the banner the user dismisses; other banners in the banner group can still be displayed. 
  9. [Optional] Set Frequency capping
    Frequency capping determines how many times each banner in the banner group is shown to a unique user. Select either No limit (banners always display) or Limit banner displays to a certain number of times per user. For example, if frequency capping is set to three, and a user visits the site four times, the user can see the same banner on the first 3 visits but not on the fourth and onward.
  10. [Optional] Set which Operating system to show the banners on:
    • All mobile operating systems.
    • Just Android or just iOS.
  11. [Optional] Schedule the banner group's activation: start immediately (default) or set a time-limited campaign.
  12. [Optional] Set Locations where the banner group is activated for.
    1. Select Worldwide to display this banner group to all users. If needed, exclude visitors coming from different regions, countries, or states. 
    2. Select Pick specific location option to display this banner group to users from one or more specific locations.
  13. [Optional] Set Show on pages, meaning, on which pages the banner group can be displayed to visitors:
    • [Default] Show on all pages of the website.
      Note: We recommend defining at least one banner group for all pages as a fallback.
    • Show on specific pages: Specify what the page or URL should or should not contain in order to display banners.  
      • You can choose either:
        • Specific page: Specify the host and/or path of the page on which to display the banner. Any queries entered will be disregarded. Example: http://www.example.com/path?query
        • URL path and query: Enter the path and/or query that determines whether or not the banner displays. Example: path?query. Note: Don’t enter an entire URL, such as http://www.example.com/path?query. Only enter the path and/or query. 
      • Up to 5 conditions can be added using and/or.
      • If there is a conflict between conditions, the banner will not display. 
  14. Click Create Banner group.
  15. [Optional] To edit the banner group again, hover over Targeting & behavior and click Edit.

 Example

Mark is the marketer for a food delivery service called "Feed Me". He decides to create a campaign for the app’s plum sale. Mark decides to use an SMS blast, as well as ad networks and Google for the campaign.

In preparation for the campaign, Mark:

  • Selects to use both incoming link attribution parameters and UTM parameters (with default parameters as the fallback for clicks that come from neither an incoming link or a UTM campaign).
  • Gives the ad network a unique attribution link to use in the campaign to drive users to the plum sale page on the Feed Me mobile site. The link includes the Redirection URL (af_r) parameter, with the URL to the plum sale page: http://feedme.com/plums_link
  • Prepares a Google Ads campaign for users visiting pages in the mobile web containing "plums_utm".
  • For SMS, adds unique attribution params to use in the campaign link to drive users to the plum sale page on the Feed Me mobile site. The link includes the pid parameter, with the URL to the plum sale page: http://feedme.com/plums_link?pid=sms&c=plums.

The campaigns start running.

The users:

  • See the ad for the plum sale and click through to the Feed Me mobile site.
  • Google Ads clicks and all other clicks arrive to the incoming link landing page and the matching Smart Banner is activated per page.
  • See the Smart Banner on the mobile site and click it. 
  • Arrive at the Feed Me app, download, and install. 
  • Get directed upon app launch to the plum sale.
  • Are attributed to the correct media sources that led them to the Feed Me mobile site.

3. Banner setup

To create a banner in a banner group:

  1. Click Create banner to enter the Edit banners page.
  2. Set the Name of the banner.
  3. Create a Design creative:
    1. Click Design creative to set the creative of the banner.
      A window to choose a banner template opens.

    2. Hover over a Creative template, and click Create to enter the Build creative setup page.
    3. Customize all the elements in the Smart Banner creative. To do so, select elements by name or click on them on the preview image. 
      • Title
      • Paragraph
      • Rating stars
      • Close button
      • Call to action
      • App logo
      • Background
      • Banner padding (to adjust banner size)
      • For images, use one of the following file types: jpeg, jpg, png. 
        Note: webp format is not supported. 
        The recommendations for the images are:
        Template type Maximum image file size Image ratio Image height Image width
        Standard 300 KB 9:4 (width x height) 70 px Adjusted to fit device

        Enhanced

        300 KB 9:4 (width x height) 110 px Adjusted to fit device
        Promotional 300 KB 4:5 (width x height) 300 px Adjusted to fit device
        Interstitial 700 KB 9:16 (width x height) Adjusted to fit device Adjusted to fit device
    4. Click Review to review the banner creative and test its appearance on different devices.
      Note: Banners may appear slightly different in active campaigns compared to preview images.
    5. If changes are needed, click Back to editor..
    6. Click Done to go back to the banner setup page.
  4. [Optional] Add custom attribution parameters. For example, ad_adset and af_ad.
    Note: The parameters pid, c, and channel cannot be added at the banner level, as they belong to the banner group level. 
  5. After finishing and saving the new creative, the banner's status becomes active. Use the Status toggle to switch between Active and Paused statuses. 
  6. [Optional] To convert the attribution link from a user acquisition type URL to a retargeting URL, add the custom is_retargeting=true parameter.
  7. Click Save all to save your work or Save all and close to save your work and close the banner setup page.

4. Testing

Once the creative is ready, it's time to put it to the test before setting it live and activating it for your users.

To test a Smart Banner creative: 

Prerequisite: Make sure that the Smart Banner code snippet is integrated into your website.  

  1. In the Test Creative page, enter the link to your web page where the Smart Banner SDK is integrated (see Smart Banners for developers).
  2. Click Generate.
  3. Copy the generated link and send it to your test device, or scan the QR code with the test device. The link or QR should redirect you to the web page and display a banner with the creative.
  4. Click Edit Creative to return to the creative configuration, or click Done to save the creative.

View banner performance

You can view performance data for the past 7 days for any given banner.

To view banner performance:

  1. In the AppsFlyer dashboard, go to Experiences & Deep Linking > Web-to-app > Smart Banners.
  2. Select the website workplace and banner group you want to view performance for.
  3. Hover over any of the banners in the banner group.
    The performance data displays for the past week, including:
    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Installs
    • Re-engagements
    • Re-attributions
    • Click-through rate (CTR). Formula: Clicks/impressions * 100
    • Conversion rate (CVR). Formula: Attributions/Clicks * 100

Note:

  • Data is based on UTC timezone.
  • Data freshness is continuous.
  • Data displayed is per banner and OneLink template. This means that if your banner and OneLink template are configured for more than one app (for example, both an Android and iOS app), the performance data that displays is for more than one app.
  • CVR may be higher than expected, sometimes even above 100%, as both view-through attributions and click-through attributions are counted.

Additional information

Banner group display logic

AppsFlyer takes the following into consideration when determining if/what Smart Banner to display:

  • Are there rules (dismissal behavior, frequency capping, locations, show on pages, etc.) set for the banner groups?
  • Does the end-user meet the rule conditions and qualify to see a banner?

If the answer to both questions is yes, meaning there are rules, and the user qualifies to see a banner, AppsFlyer chooses a banner to display as explained in the table that follows.

Banner group setup Which banners display Example
Single banner group AppsFlyer evenly splits the display of all active banners in all your banner groups between all eligible users. 
  • Example 1: There is 1 active banner. It displays to all users.
  • Example 2: There are 2 banners. 50% of users see banner 1, and the other 50% see banner 2. 
  • Example 3: There are 3 banners, 1/3 of eligible users see each banner. 
  • Example 4: There are no active banners. Nothing displays.
Multiple banner groups with identical rules AppsFlyer evenly splits the display of all active banners in all your banner groups between all eligible users. 

There are 2 banner groups (A and B), each with 3 banners (for a total of 6 banners). 1/6 of eligible users see each banner. 

Multiple banner groups with multiple rules AppsFlyer evenly splits the display of all active banners from the banner group with rules that most specifically describes and match the users. If the banner groups are equally specific in different ways, banners from all these banner groups display. 
  • Example 1: There are 2 banner groups, A and B. Banner group A is set to show worldwide, and Banner group B is set to show in Japan. Banner group B is more specific, so only the banners from that group display to users in Japan. If the group has no active banners, nothing displays.
  • Example 2: There are 2 banner groups, A and B. Banner group A is set to show worldwide, and Banner group B is set to show everywhere except Ukraine. Banner group B is more specific, so only the banners from that group display to worldwide users (except users in Ukraine). If Banner group B has no active banners, nothing displays. Banner group A displays in Ukraine.
  • Example 3: There are 2 banner groups, A and B. Banner group A is set to show in Japan, and Banner group B is set to show in April. Both banner groups are equally specific, but in different ways. Therefore, in Japan, in April, banners from both banner groups display, as neither banner group has priority over the other. 

A/B testing banner performance

You can A/B test the performance of individual banners. To do so, add custom attribution parameters to your banner creatives (step 4 of banner setup) and then use those parameters to compare each banner's performance.

Any parameters can be added except pidc, and channel, as they belong to the banner group level. 

Recommended: Set the af_adset parameter with a unique value on each banner creative. Then, use the Aggregated performance report in the AppsFlyer Overview dashboard to easily compare performance, as shown in the image that follows.

banner_performance.jpg

FAQ

Why does my banner not display?

This is due to the frequency cap set in your banner group. Frequency capping determines how many times the banner is shown to a unique user. For example, if frequency capping is set to three, and a user visits the site four times, the user sees the banner on the first 3 visits but not on the fourth and onward. Frequency capping can be disabled. Select a frequency capping value or disable frequency capping.  

Can I add parameters to the URL of my Smart Banners?

Yes. You can use either the showBanner function or updateParams function to add parameters to the URLs of your Smart Banners. 

Do Smart Banners support deep linking?

Yes. To do so, add the deep_link_value parameter in one of the following ways:

  • In the AppsFlyer UI, add a static custom attribution parameter during banner setup.
  • Use additionalParams in the showBanner function to add the parameter to the URL prior to displaying the banner.
  • Use the updateParams function to add the parameter to the URL after the banner displays.

Make sure your developer implements the desired behavior of the deep_link_value.

Can Smart Banners show different content based on whether whether or not users have the app installed?

No. If you don't know whether or not users have the app, we recommend you make your call to action applicable to both. For example: "Go to the app" or "open the app."

When users navigate from the original landing page with the banner to different pages of the site, and then back to the page with the banner, are the original incoming URL parameters still available for the Smart Banner URL?

Yes. If the original incoming URL contains a utm_source or pid parameter, the original URL is saved for the duration of the browsing session and the parameters are applied to the outgoing banner URL.

Can I set my banners to display on my mobile site but not on my wrapper/hybrid app?

Yes. To do so, when you implement Smart Banners in a wrapper/hybrid app and load the banner page from the app (and not from a web browser), don't use the showBanner function, as this displays the banner in the app. Alternatively, use the hideBanner function.

Traits and limitations

Trait Remarks
Tablets
  • Smart Banners are designed for mobile devices and their resolutions may not be optimized for tablets with large screens.
  • Browsers on tablets may not be recognized as mobile devices.
Custom parameters
  • The following special characters are not allowed in custom parameters: ;, *, !, @, #, ?, $, ^, :, &, ~, `, =, +, ’, >, <, /
  • If you define a parameter using one of these special characters, the parameter is not saved.
Banner display split AppsFlyer evenly splits the display of active banners to users. It’s not possible to select which specific banners to display more or less. For example, if there are 2 banners in a group, they each display to 50% of users. It can't be changed to a 70%-30% split. 
Specific page When you set up your banner group to display banners on a specific page, the banner rule applies only to the host/path you enter. If there is not a perfect match (for example, if your site page has additional strings not included in the rule setup), the rule doesn't apply.
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