The Mobile Gamer’s Guide to Tapjoy Offers: What is attribution?

Welcome to our guide to Tapjoy Offers. This blog series is intended to dive a bit deeper into some common questions we get from our players. We want to help you better understand what happens behind the scenes to ensure the best possible in-app experience. If you have some suggestions for a topic you would like us to cover, please review our full list of FAQs or submit a suggested topic here.

Tapjoy partners with the top advertisers and app developers to place rewarded ads into your freemium games and apps. What you may not know is that we also rely on third-party attribution partners to verify all activities on behalf of the advertiser. Mobile attribution is standard practice in the advertising industry. 

Here’s how it works.

What is Mobile Attribution? 

“Attribution” in advertising means verifying which ad network gets credited for a user seeing an advertisement downloading a new app and engaging with that 

It is common for advertisers to show ads for the same thing in multiple places at once (e.g. in-app, on desktop, and on TV). Because of this, advertisers need to work with Attribution Partners to help them understand on which ad the users took the desired action, e.g., install the app that’s being advertised. The attribution partner is a third-party that tracks which user saw the ad, and whether they responded to the ad by installing the advertised app.

For example, if a user sees a rewarded ad on the Tapjoy offerwall about a new app, and then searches online for the app and clicks a Google search ad to download it, the attribution partner will credit the install to Google, not Tapjoy, because the Google ad was the ad that they clicked on right before they downloaded the app. In this event, the user misses out on their reward because the interaction was not attributed to Tapjoy. 

Attribution is a complicated job and can often be the reason for a denied reward. Here are the three most common scenarios, and how to avoid them:

Reason 1: Another ad network got credit 

Everyone loves the word free. In the world of freemium mobile games, advertisements are the reason games are available for free. But how do ads find their way into our mobile games, social feeds, and streaming playlists? It would be impossible for brands to manage one-to-one relationships with every possible platform. That’s why ad networks arose — to connect advertisers with consumers through the digital properties they use every day. In the mobile ecosystem, Tapjoy is an ad network.

With the large mix of different ad networks available today, advertisers need a way to keep track of which ads users are clicking on, and what happened next. This is where attribution partners enter the equation. But attributing clicks, downloads, and views to the right ad network is no easy task: In this mobile age, we often jump from one app to another, into a web browser, and back again, and it can be hard to keep up. When this happens sometimes a different ad network will get credited (or ”attributed”) for an action you took. 

Consider the following example scenario:

Let’s say you decide to complete an offer for an app on the Tapjoy offerwall. After starting the download, you hop back into the game you were playing and click on a video advertisement for the same app on another ad network like Facebook or Google (there can be multiple ad networks in one mobile game!). If, after the download finished, you opened the app, the systems that keep track of which network deserves credit run into a problem: Sure, you may have heard about the app from Tapjoy, but you clicked an ad from the other network more recently, and so it looks like they deserve credit. In the mobile industry, it’s standard practice to give credit to whichever ad you saw last, and so the other network gets credited and Tapjoy isn’t notified that you should be given your reward.

Tapjoy Attribution Explained

Reason 2: The attribution partner flagged the device’s behavior as suspicious

Even if you play by the rules, the way you complete an offer may occasionally be flagged as suspicious. Just like mobile ad networks, attribution partners have robust fraud frameworks in place to detect and eliminate suspicious activity. While it may be inconvenient if it happens to you, anti-fraud measures keep the ad ecosystem secure and, by extension, help keep games free. Luckily, most suspicious or fraudulent behavior is easy to avoid. 

Some examples of things that can be flagged as suspicious activity include resetting your device advertising ID to complete a one-time offer you already completed or using an Android emulator – an application on your PC that makes your PC appear to be an Android mobile device. 

Reason 3: Your Lookback Window May Have Closed

Finally, you may not have received your rewards due to something called a “lookback window”. This is a window of time that the attribution partner references to help attribute actions. For instance, if you click an offer, then complete it three months later, it’s difficult for the advertiser to know with certainty that the offer you clicked in February influenced your decision to install an app in May? 

Typically, advertisers and attribution partners will decide on an agreed period of time for an attribution window, sometimes it can be 7 days or sometimes it can be up to 30 days, or even more depending on the advertiser.

If the attribution window was 7 days, you must download and open the app immediately. All of the tasks listed in the offer instructions should be completed within the window of time set by the advertiser (which can vary). We recommend trying to complete your actions within 7 days to ensure you are rewarded successfully. The clock starts once an offer has opened, and if it isn’t completed in full by the time the lookback window runs out, the reward will not be delivered.

Lookback windows are really important as they help prevent fraud to keep apps free! 

Consider the following example scenario:

If you were to download an app and wait two weeks after first opening it to complete the signup process, you could encounter a problem. If the lookback window for that particular offer is only one week, then you would not receive your reward. 

Pro Tip: The average lookback window is seven days. While in some cases, you may have a bit longer, it’s better to play it safe and complete the offer before time runs out. If you have data-saving mode turned on, you may choose to wait until you’re connected to WiFi to complete a download. If this is the case, set a reminder for a time you know you’ll have a better connection.

That wraps up the top reasons attribution can impact the reward distribution process. We hope that this article helps answer some of your questions. We believe that rewarded advertising systems are the future, and we remain committed to our goal of cooperating with all members of the mobile industry to develop systems that players will love. 

Are you a player in need of support? Visit our Customer Support page to see if we’ve addressed your issue in our FAQ section. 

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