Understanding view-through conversion and viewability in user acquisition attribution models

Written by Joao Victor Amadeu - App Promotion Team Leader
Created Aug 28, 2023 | 3 min read
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The fear that fraud has brought to the programmatic industry over the past years is undeniable, devastating paid campaigns and organic traffic, ending relationships between networks, agencies, and advertisers, increasing dependence on Mobile Measurement Partners, anti-fraud solutions, and a lot of money being flushed down the mobile landscape toilet.

It is also undeniable the current scenario looks brighter and cleaner. Fraudsters have lost a lot of space with the development of anti-fraud systems and the increase in advertisers’ knowledge of where to spread their investments on cleaner sources.

Miss concepts about programmatic media buying

Even though the current situation is very positive and advertisers and suppliers are more aligned than ever, we nonetheless have a lot of miss concepts between the programmatic media buying ecosystem and some behaviors and consequences of the changes suffered in the industry lately, especially with the advent of IOS 14+, privacy, probabilistic, and SKAN attribution.

Buying on programmatic Demand Side Platforms, regardless of our choice, advertisers will face unusual situations in terms of data. Why are there so many impression-based installs, why are there low conversion rates from click to install, and what does it mean to have a high attendance rate? These riddles come along when we rely on the real-time bidding ecosystem when we decide to work with too many partners at once, the type of creatives we’re using, how much we’re willing to spend, and the reliability of the incoming traffic from the exchanges. Having a more organized and solid media plan and not running too many tests at once, facilitates the analysis of these partners and the creatives used.


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The last click is in the past

The consequences of those changes on the mobile landscape, its fast development, and the enhancements of DSPs induced some experts and gurus of the industry to defend the idea that the last click idea is behind us, an old-fashioned term forever forgotten in the ’00s that the users, in reality, don’t click on ads, and, when they do, they do by mistake, giving us a fake sensation of sane click through and conversion rates. So, if those mind masters are right, why should we continue investing in ads? Well, that question is very easy to answer… Can you click on an ad on television? Or in an ad panel on the mall or at the bus stop in the city center? Definitely not, but they are there for a reason: to create engagement and awareness and give a reason for users to interact with that brand, product, or service. The same works for ads in the digital environment. The user might not click on your super cool banner, but he definitely thought it was cool and might do something about it later on… Maybe install it, play it, or even buy it.

How to evaluate view-through conversions

Leaving behind last-click attribution and with the attribution models constantly changing alongside user behavior could lead to a misjudgment on the view-through conversions, which are those installs attributed on impression-based after the user sees an ad without clicking on it. This results in biases in our analysis because the advertiser can interpret that this user could be doing that organic install even though they were exposed to a small banner, triggering what I mentioned above regarding the assisted installs. You might be investing a lot in a DSP, but the final conversion is getting another media source, including a fraudulent one. Luckily, an extremely important metric can help us with this challenge, what would be the best way to work around this problem? It is simple, let’s go back to the TV commercial ads.

You want to ensure that once your ad is displayed, the user is paying attention and seeing it, and it has visibility. The same goes for the ad on the mobile landscape, we want the ad to be visible and for the user to pay attention to the message. For that, we have a dimension called ad viewability, which includes the position of that banner on the page/screen, the duration the banner is displayed, and whether the banner is displayed partially or fully. All these things matter when it comes to the effectiveness of our media spend. If the user doesn’t click on that ad, we want the ad to be displayed decently at the very least, so the user interacts with it, reads the message, and gets curious about it. For that, the inventory must provide a great % of ad viewability among all the impressions counted.

The main outcome of the current scenario that advertisers and publishers are facing with the attributions in the app universe is that we need to make sure to evaluate and review both the banner’s quality and impression efficiency, guaranteeing that the ads are well-served and have a positive impact on users and encourage engagement.

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