Tracking mobile attribution, or where your users came from before they installed your app, isn’t as simple as web attribution. This is because the mobile experience, namely the App Store and Play Store, is owned by either Google or Apple.
These companies’ respective ecosystems require a more complicated tracking system, but the data is still available to you.
You can send mobile install data to Mixpanel from Android, iOS, and Facebook and Twitter campaigns.
For Android, Google provides a referrer property so you know where your installations came from. You can then send that data to Mixpanel (with the exception of data from Facebook and Twitter).
To set up automatic referrer tracking on Android, see the Android library .
Users enter the Apple App Store carrying data about where they came from, but the App Store strips that data once the user arrives in the store.
Therefore, users who download your application don’t come with any data showing where they were before arriving at the App Store.
Third-party attribution companies (like Appsflyer, Tapstream, MAT, and Adjust) can help backfill this missing data.
Third-party attribution companies set up partnerships with Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and so on, to track all device IDs that interacted with those ad platforms.
When a user opens up an application on his or her phone for the first time, these third-party SDKs match the device ID of the application to the information they’ve been given from.
These third-party attribution companies can then send an event to Mixpanel containing this attribution data.
Install Data from Facebook and Twitter Campaigns
On both Android and iOS, attribution information is increasingly difficult to come by for Facebook and Twitter campaigns.
Mixpanel is a third-party analytics tool, which means we are currently unable to access Facebook and Twitter install data (i.e., third-party attribution sources cannot share Facebook install data to Mixpanel).
Facebook also blocks the referrer property that Android allows you to send, which means you won’t get any Facebook referral data from Android either.
Capturing the Data
So with this in mind, how can you get Facebook and Twitter mobile attribution data into Mixpanel?
Well, normally, a third-party attribution source maps together the attribution information and then sends a postback event to Mixpanel server-to-server.
But some third-party attribution sources (like Tapstream and Adjust) offer a different process that would allow you to get Facebook and Twitter attribution data into Mixpanel: they take the attribution data and beam it back to the client device, and from there, the developer can choose to send that data to Mixpanel.
For AppsFlyer, the only way to get that data to Mixpanel is for the advertiser to send the attribution data to Mixpanel as AppsFlyer cannot send it to Mixpanel.
If you do choose to take this route with a third party attribution partner, this means the onus is on you as the developer to send Facebook and/or Twitter data to Mixpanel.