Aug 2020

The life of a marketer is difficult. Tight deadlines, overnight campaigns, competition pressure, tough KPIs, incomplete data & workarounds to understand a campaign’s performance. A marketer is often busy with operational activities, they don’t realise the risk of Mobile Analytics Syndrome. 

I’m no doctor. However, I’ve spent 6 years of my life working to set up analytics for most brands across Asia, and I found this undiscovered syndrome amongst marketers which I call Mobile Analytics Syndrome.

When I visited the WHO website last week, there was a banner which highlighted the seriousness of the outbreak. I had a funny idea to apply this to depict the seriousness of Mobile Analytics in a digital marketer’s life. So, here you go!

The Virus – MAV

Mobile Analytics Syndrome (MAS) is a disease caused by a newly discovered Mobile Analytics Virus (MAV) which comprises the complex field of Mobile Analytics, Walled Gardens of Facebook and Google and Fragmented Industry of Mobile Analytics solutions. 

Most people infected with MAS will experience mild to moderate symptoms,  depending on their urge to become a data-driven marketer. Organisations or marketers without a strong data-driven culture tend to develop stronger symptoms.

The best way to prevent and slow down the transmission is to be informed about the Mobile Measurement Tools, and understand why and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from this virus by unlearning some of the misconceptions about this virus as well as by openly discussing this area with your teams and management.

Luckily, at this time there are some specific treatments available (however, scarce) in the industry. Some of these treatments include working together with Mobile Measurement Partners like AppsFlyer, Branch, etc. or working with experts Agency or people who are actively exploring the field. 

Let’s take a look at symptoms that people develop once they’re infected with MAV virus.

MAV affects different people/brands in different ways. Most common symptoms are:

  • High Reliance on Play Store data

When the marketing teams don’t understand the importance of Mobile Analytics, they tend to rely on Play Store data and be happy with whatever this data presents to them. It’s not their fault, it’s the very nature of the fragmented industry and fragmented analytics of Mobile Apps. The fact is that the Play/App store reports hardly give you any insights on your marketing campaigns and most importantly, you can’t use this data to optimise your campaigns definitely.

  • Use of Proxy Metrics

Before the proper arrival of Mobile Analytics, there were solutions which used to predict how many installs or uninstalls you might have received because of certain campaigns. This was incorrect and efforts would be futile with inaccurate results. So, if you’re still heavily using this type of tool, you need to be aware of the advances in the industry for sure.

  • Lack of understanding concepts

If the team don’t understand the concepts of Installs, Uninstalls, Cost per Installs, View-through Installs, Re-engagement, Retargeting, Mobile Attribution, LTV, Post-back Pixels, and how they are and measured, it could be another red flag to focus on this area of Mobile Analytics.

  • Narrow focus on marketing campaigns

Brands who never set up the right tools, focus on running Google Universal App Campaigns or Facebook Install Ads which can be measured accurately by Firebase & Facebook SDKs respectively. Unfortunately, such teams are not able to explore other sources of installs via 6000+ install partners, some of which could provide cheaper installs and better engagement compared to Google/Facebook campaigns.

  • Confusion over multiple tools

As I said, it’s not just you, but it’s also the industry. Over a period of time, Mobile Analytics has remained a fragmented industry without clear leaders in this space. AppsFlyer has started emerging as a better solution and better product compared to others with its recent funding. But it is too early to predict. These varieties of choices always confuse people and in this case tech teams and marketers.

  • Limited understanding of your re-engagement sources

If you’re infected you’ll not be able to see how users interact with below re-engagement channels and come back to your app to convert and purchase. Do you attribute your conversion success to all the below sources?

    • Notifications
    • Paid Ads (Mobile Web -> Mobile App Journeys)
    • UTM Tagged Marketing Links
    • Organic Search
    • AMP Pages
    • 3rd Party referral Websites and Apps
    • Google App Referral
    • Social Sharing Traffic


  • Unable to tie conversion back to the source

Are you able to tie your Mobile App installs back to each individual campaign run by Facebook, AppNexus, Google, Emails or any other channels? These are the basic reports that a marketer should have access to, however, you can not get them if your Mobile Analytics is not set up correctly.


  • A large difference between web & app tracking

    • Measurement Plan: Web Analytics is easy compared to Mobile Analytics, so most marketers have a matured setup on Web but not on App. Do you have parameter/metric that you get on the Web also available for your Apps?
    • Dashboards for Mobile App Traffic and conversions: Because of the dearth of conversion data from Mobile App, you won’t be able to build a dashboard that includes Mobile App Conversions and Attribute properly.
    • Tools: Absence of proper measurement tools such as MMT (Mobile Measurement Tools) shown above. Our favourite is AppsFlyer though.
    • Definition of key success metrics: KPIs for Mobile Audience is in many cases missing and is never the focus. Sometimes, we all avoid it by saying that the Mobile App is not the focus. I seriously ask them, if Mobile App is not the focus, why do you develop the app in the first place?
  • No experimentation culture on Mobile Apps

Most brands are not able to experiment on Websites very easily. However, when it comes to Mobile A/B Testing, they’ve no clue. Firebase A/B Testing is one of the ways you can test hypotheses on your native apps.

  • No Re-engagement Campaigns

Teams that use install campaigns heavily, however, are not able to run App Engagement ads because of the absence of Deep Links and related knowledge.

  • Apps built on Hybrid/Web Technologies

In addition, there are a variety of technologies for which the setup can be challenging and quite difficult and different. If your apps are using below technologies, you need to make a huge effort on measuring the same or compromise on the analytics (which is the key benefit of going digital). If you’re using some of the below, you need to be mindful of the trade-off you’ve already made.

    • Heavy use of Webviews 
    • PhoneGap Cordova
    • Canvas
    • React Native
    • Xamarin
    • Titanium

All these symptoms suggest that the virus has spread into many brands already and there are parties like Agencies, Mobile Measurement Tools who are doing their part to educate people about these concepts of Mobile Analytics and reduce the spread. You can also help reduce it, by sharing this article with your team, who should know this.

There are brands in the industry who have taken steps to prevent the outbreak and have been moving successfully in the direction of virus-free analytics. There are a lot of solutions that you need to explore such as:

  • Re-think your app tech stack (start using native technologies)
  • Onboard new tools like MMT on your stack, start comparing
  • Build solutions on connecting data across Web/App measurement tools
  • Build your re-engagement strategy
  • Have a dedicated talent or outsource to setup Mobile Analytics solutions
  • Training to all team members about Mobile Analytics
  • Discuss and accept to start your journey in this direction. 

We’ll discuss these solutions in the next part of this article. Till then, stay safe and keep learning.

Jyot Patel
Jyot Patel

Director, Analytics, Hardworking and Dedicated 💪🏻

Jyot loves helping and solving technical problems faced by people. He is a proven Analytics 📊 leader having 5+ years of experience of helping clients across Asia 🌏 to setup their MarTech platforms. Jyot started his successful journey in digital industry by launching Apps on Play/App store that have received 2M+ downloads 📲

He can be reached at [email protected]