Choosing a system for analytics and tracking mobile applications
(Written by Aleksei Evseev, CEO Go Mobile)
Let’s put the points right:
- No, tracking and analytics are not the same thing.
- Yes, tracking and analytical functions can be combined in a single platform.
- No, you should not set up all the analytical systems at once.
- Yes, you can set up a separate analytical system and a separate tracking system.
Analytics is the study of the real audience of a product. Who is reading the article now? Will they read it to the end? If not, where will they stop and why? Which percent (share) of users from Moscow stopped reading the article after the first paragraph?
Tracking means monitoring the effectiveness of the traffic channels. How did the users find the article?
How it all began
Surprisingly, at the beginning of 2018, most developers can assess the effectiveness of traffic channels only by the funnel’s initial metrics (post-click on the website, duration and cost of the call).
There is absolutely no understanding of how much it costs to attract a real buyer of an apartment from a certain traffic channel.
It was the same with mobile. By digital standards, it was for quite a long time- about 5 years ago.
The main KPI for all non-gaming customers was the cost of installation of the application (CPI). This did not take into account what users had done after the installation and, , the main metrics were the number of installations and their cost.
The difficulty lay in tracking traffic sources. The most popular systems in those days were Flurry and Google Analytics. The latter was generally set up almost automatically, this was done for one simple reason- it was the most well-known.
These two systems were originally analytical, but they tried to position themselves as tracking solution. For example, we tracked installations from various traffic channels using Flurry. However, we had to put up with losses of up to 100% and lack of integration with many traffic providers.
Now, the market of tracking and analytical systems has developed. Regional leaders have come up, while many solutions left the marketor were re-qualified.
Thanks to analytics, CPI is now just a traffic buying model, not the final KPI.
The tracking of any traffic channel is fairly easy to implement, but new challenges have appeared- fight against fraud; deep-linking dynamic retargeting; multi-channel attribution and so on.
Main analytical and tracking systems
Basic systems cover approximately 95% of the market.
Various uses of mobile analytical and tracking systems
Tracking systems have now evolved into marketing platforms. They are not only limited to calculating installations but allow you to solve most business tasks within one SDK.
Half of our clients have a single marketing platform that is “tracking system + their own CRM”. This is sufficient if your mobile applications account for a small fraction of your business. Sometimes, a paid anti-fraud system is not even needed, since only transparent traffic channels are used: Google, Facebook,etc.
But! You must remember that nothing is actually free. If the tracking system is free, then it means that is has a different business model, for example, the subsequent monetization of your data. Otherwise, you are welcome to pay the bills.
Analytical system only
There are only a few, but they do exist- companies that do not buy traffic in general.
A global example is Pokemon Go, and a Russian example is VKontakte.
In such hot applications, like Pokemon Go, the amount of traffic is staggering. The main goal is not buying traffic, but work with organic sources and retention of current users.
You can save by choosing not to install a paid tracking system.
You will be able to track software bugs, analyze event funnels, segment your audience by any method, and send push notifications using the the analytical system.
Tracking + Analytics
The set of systems depends directly on your goals:
- Do you need deep-links?
- Fraud protection?
I won’t advertise any of the systems or their combinations. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The main point is that we do not recommend using two different systems for tracking or analytics simultaneously. That is, it is not worth using AppsFlyer and Adjust at the same time.
You do not need to clog up your product with unnecessary SDKs. If done right, the optimization process will also become easier.
Strengths and weaknesses
We will discuss the advantages and nuances of working with the three most common platforms on the market: AppsFlyer, Adjust and AppMetrica.
This is not my own subjective view, but the information we received directly from the systems while working on our mobile marketing wikipedia, Mobile Wiki.
- Data storage and access to it without a limited subscription period
- API for access to raw data and ready reports (still works inconsistently- author’s note)
- Smart Link to track activity that is difficult to measure.
- Push-campaigns- mailings (dispatches) to custom audiences, as well as statistics on these mailing lists via the web interface or from an external server through Push API.
- Post API- you can load data from your own backend and consolidate all data in AppMetrica (that is, purchases made via the web can be sent directly to AppMetrica).
- AppMetrica has a mobile application along with its web interface.
- Support for deferred and dynamic deep-links.
- Free responsive Russian-language support.
- Absence of dynamic audiences (solved by request toAPI logs).
- Lack of integration with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- No cost-data for advertising networks.
- In their terms and conditions, there is a point that states that Yandex can use your data, including “for their own purposes.”
- Unlimited Lookback window (data storage for the entire period of use), the most honest (trustworthy) data deduplication.
- Cohorts for all sources and organics without time limits and various KPI (including daily, weekly and monthly cuts for 30 selected months).
- Support for cost-data on the major advertising networks, starting with Facebook, Google and SnapChat, and ending with other partners.
- Anti-fraud, which allows you to monitor different types of traffic from ad networks.
- An open-source SDK for all platforms, including uncommon (rare) and new ones.
- Certification according to the strict European legislation (concerning the storage of personal data).
- The ability to configure the attribution window atapplication, partner, campaign and adgroup level.
- Flexible settings for re-attribution, without any time limits.
- It may be more expensive than other small-scale applications: up to 5000 installations per month.
- Absence of a dedicated manager for basic subscription plans (there is only general support via Email)
- Lack of agency access, only access to traffic channels can be provided.
- Tracking of all major sites and more than 3000 partners.
- Data on application removals.
- Multi-channel attribution.
- Alert KPI.
- Convenient access provided to agencies for integration.
- Tracking of installations from TV commercials (TV-audience).
- Most convenient dashboard in terms of usability.
- A mobile application is available.
- High starter prices.
- Data storage for 90 days.