This loophole allows you to get user-level attribution on Facebook—without AMM!

December 1, 2021
3 min
Farhana Rahman

It was not that long ago when we first went over what Facebook’s deprecation of the AMM program meant for marketing teams, and offered tips on how app companies could prepare for it before the demise of AMM.


Well yea… so AMM is gone now. On Oct 29th, Facebook directed the MMPs (Mobile Measurement Partners, such as Appsflyer, Branch, Singular, etc.) to stop providing marketers with a user-level attribution API. Marketing communities went abuzz over what this meant for them and the growth campaigns for their apps.


What the end of Facebook AMM means for your marketing team

The end of Facebook AMM doesn’t suddenly render MMP’s useless. Your team can ​​still consume an Appsflyer API that provides the ARPU or FTD for each Facebook campaign (assuming you are sending purchase events to AppsFlyer). However you could no longer simply aggregate user-level data in your BI as a group-by query on your own data lake.


It is important to note that all of this is only relevant for Android (as for iOS user-level attribution is only available for opted-in users, which has a very low coverage, 5% in the US, and up to 25% world wide).

The alternative that’s gonna help bridge the gap

Okay, enough chit-chat. I know you clicked through to learn more about the loophole to go back to receiving user-level attribution on Facebook.


If you have been in the UA game long enough, you will know that the hero of this story isn’t even a stranger. It is Install Referrer


Facebook recently announced that following successful testing, they intend to leverage Google Play Store’s Install Referrer to bring back some of this data for Android.


So here’s a quick technical rundown of how this works:


  • You run an Android app ad on Facebook
  • A user clicks on the ad and is directed to the Google Play Store
  • Facebook appends secured campaign metadata to the click that gets passed to Google
  • If the user installs the app within the Google Play Store, the Install Referrer will pass that secured campaign metadata to the advertiser
  • Once the app is installed and opened, MMPs can retrieve the secured metadata for clients and use it to retrieve information about which campaign directly led to the app install


The original usage of that function was to allow personalization of the experience. A.K.A, a deep link. It’s an option to send a parameter (a context string, called the install referrer A.K.A ‘Google install referrer’ ) from the ad clicked, to the app when it is first opened/installed.


This is a great win for advertisers, who can now get back much of the Facebook attribution data that was previously available to them via the AMM program. A lot of disruption to BI/internal analytics systems can now be avoided, at least on Android.


The Install Referrer isn’t affecting any attribution data flows for MMPs. 

How to implement Install Referrer via MMP’s

For further reference, here are some resources that further explain how to implement it via the MMP’s:


AppsFlyer

AppsFlyer will continue to receive device-level data from Facebook, meaning that their attribution and reporting abilities (including multi-touch attribution, LTV, ROI, cohort, retention reports, fraud protection, Audiences, and other services) will remain unchanged. 


If you provide them with the decryption key, they will be able to attribute users who don't have an advertising ID (LAT-enabled). This will improve attribution accuracy. For users attributed using the referrer mechanism, the channel parameter isn't currently available, but will change going forward. 

Branch 

In preparation for Facebook’s new solution, Branch updated their Android SDK to ensure the Google Play Referrer is always collected. Once all is said and done on your end (update to Branch Android SDK v5.0.13 or higher), Branch will automatically collect Play Install Referrer values on your behalf when your app is installed. They will also make the decrypted campaign metadata available to you for export through their existing export APIs and webhook systems, deduplicated alongside all of the data for your other ad network partners and non-paid acquisition channels.

Branches attribution engine will seamlessly incorporate this data into your attribution decisions. If there is ever a conflict between the Install Referrer and the data Branch receives from Facebook’s MMP endpoint, they will defer to the Install Referrer due to it being guaranteed last-touch by definition.

Singular

Similar to AppsFlyer and Branch, Singular will continue to have the same data access from Facebook, which provides a more accurate and complete representation of the Facebook attribution claims, including impressions and impression based attributions, and all clicks, and installs derived from these clicks based on the attribution windows.

The benefits of this change

While a bit of inconvenience did come into play for brands and advertisers, we can’t deny the fact that there are some benefits here worth noting. For instance, restoring the ability to export user-level data from FB to your BI (at least on Android) is no joke! 


Additionally, Install Referrer allows tracking longer cohorts (e.g. 365 days) compared to FB device-level attribution (which must be deleted by MMPs after 180 days). Sweet!


Also note that as Facebook is still testing the use of Install Referrer, further clarity details will be provided as they move to a general roll out.


Farhana Rahman
Senior Content Manager

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