Search Supplement: Why Won’t My Numbers Add Up?

Limited Ad Tracking

One of Apple’s key principles is the right to privacy and users having the right to choose how much information they share. Whilst in my personal life I value this step by Apple, it does create a headache for mobile marketers and those who wish to understand the full performance of their campaigns. Limited Ad Tracking (LAT) is Apple’s way of letting users control their privacy. LAT is a setting on Apple devices that allows users to opt out of receiving targeted ads to your interests. Whilst the setting does not stop you from receiving ads, it stops advertisers targeting you based on your demographic, interest or location as this is not shared with 3rd parties.

LAT is a key contributor in the discrepancy between the amount of installs you see within the ASA platform and your MMP. When a user who has LAT switched on in their device converts through your Search Ad, the install will be recorded within the Apple UI, but not in your MMP. Therefore, your MMP will always be reporting on less installs because of this privacy setting. Apple have estimated 20% of users have LAT turned on, with this number set to grow. Therefore, when reporting on the performance of your ASA campaigns, you need to bear in mind your MMP will not be reporting on the full picture. You may need to do some quick maths using the columns available to you in the ASA platform, and apply this to your MMP.

Open Latency

Apple and 3rd party tools approach attribution differently, which contributes to numbers not adding up. The way Apple attributes the installs and the way your MMP attributes installs will also lead to discrepancy in your install numbers. Apple will register an install when the app is fully downloaded onto a user’s phone. An MMP will register an install when a user has downloaded the app fully and then opens it for the first time. So, when you come to look at install volumes within Apple, you may see 100 installs but your 3rd party tracker may only show 80 installs. Do not fret, it just means the user has not opened the app yet. Depending on the overall objectives of your campaign and if you are prioritising achieving long term value or getting people to perform in-app actions, you can decide on which version of the metrics are most applicable for your reporting.


The final stumbling block you may run into when figuring out why your install metrics are not matching, is down to redownloads. Apple will continue to count the install even if that user is a returning user and downloading your app again, after deleting it the first time. Within the ASA interface you can segment the differences between new downloads and redownloads, which allows you to get a flavour of how many people are coming back to redownload the app (normally a higher value user), or someone is downloading the app for the first time. Whilst Apple will report on a redownload, your MMP won’t. As the majority of MMP’s work on a first open attribution model, the second install will not be recorded, and your installs will not match up. This is just something to consider when you are reporting back the number of install you are seeing as the MMP may not be showing the full picture of your performance.

In this world of endless data touchpoints, sources and truths; it can be confusing to tell a story as everything and everyone is saying something different. These three factors should however make your life a bit easier when reporting and conveying your App activity performance to your client.

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