Preload referrer attribution for marketers

At a glance: Marketers contract with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), mobile carriers, and app discovery partners to preload their app at the factory or at the time the device is first turned on by the user.

AppsFlyer preload referrer attribution

Preload referrer attribution gives marketers an accurate and privacy-preserving mechanism to measure the performance of preload campaigns.

User privacy is assured because attribution is performed using referrer matching. The referrer is generated independently of the device and user identifiers. This method provides marketers with deterministic attribution results and simultaneously ensures that user privacy is maintained.

The solution provides:

  • Transparent support for app updates and app redownloads.
  • Visibility into the device first activation with the preloaded apps including the time and geo (country). For example, marketers are able to tell how many devices got activated with an app preloaded in certain geo during a certain time period.

AppsFlyer gives the highest priority to preload attribution. This means that if a user engages with other campaigns before opening the app for the first time, the preload campaign is awarded the attribution. Other engagements are regarded as assisted installs.

Preload referrer campaign options

Referrer option Description
  • The app was preloaded at the factory or was preloaded the first time the device is activated. Alternatively, a wizard prompts users to download the app when the device is first activated.
  • A preload event, equivalent to a click, is reported to AppsFlyer when the device is turned on for the first time.
  • Attribution occurs when the user opens the app for the first time.
  • The preload event has the highest attribution priority.
Click to download
  • App installation is taking place later on the device lifecycle through push notifications, partner alternative stores, etc.
  • When the user engages with an ad or with a push message, the app is automatically downloaded and installed on the device without redirecting to the store.
  • Attribution is awarded using the AppsFlyer last-click win rules.

Campaign performance data availability

Preload referrer campaign performance data is available in the AppsFlyer dashboard as follows:

  • Overview dashboard: Preload events count as clicks in aggregate reports and dashboards. They are aggregated at the preload partner and campaign level.
  • Raw data: Preload events are available in the clicks reports available only via Data Locker.


Starting May 24, 2022:

  • Match_type for preload referrer campaigns is displayed as preload_rfr and as af_referrer for click-to-download in raw data reports.
  • AppsFlyer displays in dashboards the ad network that drove the preload and ad networks that contributed to the first app launch. Learn more about preload campaigns.

Run preload referrer campaigns

To run preload campaigns, you must contract with a preload partner and set up the campaign in AppsFlyer. 

Before you begin:

To set up a referrer preload campaign:

  1. In AppsFlyer, go to Configuration > Integrated Partners.
  2. Select the preload partner.
  3. Turn on Preload attribution
  4. Set the Preload lookback window duration. Range: 1-180 days.
    Let the preload partner know that you are ready to attribute their campaigns. 

Partners supporting preload referrer campaigns

Partner PID Preload referrer campaign options Learn more
Preload Click to download
Digital Turbine On Device digitalturbine_int

Coming soon

Aura ironSource aura_int

Coming soon

Appnext appnext_int

Coming soon