Skip to content

Finding Your Attribution Sweet Spot with VTA

As the mobile user journey becomes increasingly complex with more touch points and devices along the way to the path to purchase, advertisers have come to look for more updated attribution models to accurately measure the effects of their digital channels in delivering ROI.


Coupled with the rise of playable and video ads that tend to be viewed rather than clicked on, performance marketers have found that view-through attribution (VTA) proved to be a more accurate measurement mechanic in evaluating and optimizing retargeting campaigns.

View-through, also known as post-view, refers to when a user is exposed to an ad campaign and takes an action such as making a purchase or paying for a subscription, without clicking on the ad itself. Although the topic has only become a major talking point in the mobile industry in the past two years, the concept exists for as long as advertising itself. We see view-through in many aspects of marketing; perhaps most notably in TV, radio, or OOH advertising, with companies continuing to spend billions on these channels, even though they can’t directly see an engagement path from commercial or billboard to purchase.

So what’s all the fuss about?

It’s The Industry Standard

AdTech heavyweights Facebook and Google both use a self-attribution model and have default attribution windows of 1 day for VTA and 28-days for last-click attribution. More recently, both companies have released reports advocating view-through and have conducted rigorous A/B tests to prove the lift associated with users viewing an ad, even if they did not click.

What’s important to note here is that if you run campaigns on Google, Facebook or any other partner who’s default setting is view-through; if you want to compare retargeting performance you have to integrate post-view or use a third party tool that will measure the different channels the same way. The inconsistency of attribution models adopted by mobile advertising vendors presents a major challenge for marketers who are under the microscope more than ever to demand accountability, clarity, and transparency from their advertising partners. But querying your retargeting vendor on their attribution model is the first step in becoming more strategic with advertising spend and allocating budget more efficiently across channels.

It Will Become More Important With The Growth of Video & Playables

If you are currently investing in or plan to invest in video or interactive ads in the future, post-view becomes increasingly important to measure. Interactive and video ads boast a 7x higher engagement rate than standard banner ads, and user research consistently shows that people generally prefer immersive and interactive ads to banners.

Video and interactive ads also boast high completion rates but often have low click-throughs. The reason for this lies in the design of the ads themselves; users may be in the middle of browsing a store or completing a level when they see a video or interactive ad for your app. Although in that moment, they may not be ready to complete an action like a purchase or subscription in your app, the immersive nature of the ad means they will recall the ad when they are going to make a purchase and come back organically.

[resize output image]
Farm Heroes

In the playable creative above which features several interactive elements, the engagement rate was 18% but CTR was just 1.8%. If CTR only was considered here, the ad would not have any perceived performance value to advertisers, when the reality is the opposite.

How to Decide on The Correct Attribution Window?

The standard set by Facebook & Google for post-view is 24 hours and whilst both partners allow advertisers to change the default setting, windows can’t be shorter than 1 day. However, this default setting is arbitrary and doesn’t take into account the different monetization mechanics of each app.

There really is no one-size fits all methodology. Many of our clients are subscription apps that have a once off conversion event. Once a user subscribes, there is no additional conversion that they can drive, unless the user churns and a re-activation campaign is needed. Other eCommerce and gaming clients can have users convert multiple times, whenever they choose so the attribution models need to vary depending on the conversion events, monetization, and life-time value of the app’s users.

When we advise clients on VTA, we run analysis on in-app activity and look at the app events per hour, after an impression is served. To determine the adapted attribution window, we compare the average number of events happening within 24h post-impression, with the organic average (considered as all events happening between 24h to 72h post impression). The correct window is the lapse of time during which the average number of events per hour is always higher than the organic one. Below is an example analysis we ran for a gaming client where we hypothesised that the ideal attribution window would be 27 hours post-impression.

It Doesn’t Cost a Penny to Measure

VTA does not replace click-through attribution. The two attribution models work in parallel to give advertisers a more accurate picture of the retargeting ad’s performance. The best thing is that unlike with UA, where most networks use CPI as a pricing method, many retargeting partners like ourselves actually bill on CPC basis. This means if you integrate post-view, performance will look better — and reflect better the impact of RTG — but your invoice will remain the same.

If you’d like some support finding what window works best for your app, contact your dedicated account manager. If you have more questions on this topic or anything else app retargeting adjacent, shoot an email over to

Originally posted on Medium.