Is Every Attribution Company Really Impartial? | AppsFlyer

Oren Kaniel Oren Kaniel Aug 03, 2020

When we started AppsFlyer back in 2011, marketing and advertising were completely new things for us. I had my first iPhone in 2010 and soon realized that this device would be responsible for radical changes in our lives.

Then I realized that app developers couldn’t measure where their users were coming from. Back then (and still today), this was the new gold hunt, and targeting all possibilities was a “legitimate strategy,” especially since there was no technology that allowed mobile app marketers to measure their activities.

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I still remember my reaction when I saw an ad display LUMA slide (See image on the right). What I clearly saw was a wide range of companies, without my understanding what value each of them offered. Most importantly, it was unclear who was representing whose interests. From that moment on, I became convinced that measurement was absolutely necessary, but I still didn’t understand how or where it fit into these different groups of logos.

I decided to start by focusing on one side of the market, developing superior technology, product and service that would represent marketers. I believed that if we had a clear mission, without any internal conflict of interest, we could achieve a high level of trust that would allow us to establish an open and transparent dialogue with clients. I knew this approach would allow us to deliver significant value to marketers across the ecosystem.

In fact, at AppsFlyer, “impartial” and “independent” aren’t just words we stamp on our sales and marketing materials. They are a critical and essential part of our company’s DNA. When we say that our mission is to help our clients succeed, we are being sincere, as we have no conflicts of interest with any of our stakeholders.

Can you imagine buying a property without having a lawyer to represent you and the their interests? And trust the word of the real estate agency and her lawyers? It’s absurd! So how do attribution companies that call themselves “impartial” and measure billions of dollars of ad spending get away with it? I believe the answer is clear: the lack of knowledge and transparency in the market is the main culprit, and that is what we intend to analyze in this publication.

There are five points that are fundamental to understanding what impartiality and independence mean in the attribution business:

1. Playing on both teams – Having advertisers and publishers/ad-networks as clients

Some attribution providers have products that are sold separately to ad networks and that represent a significant amount of their revenue. To make matters worse, some sell their customer data to anyone who wants to buy it. If you don’t know how your attribution provider makes money and you don’t know who your customers are, there’s a good chance you’re the product…

AppsFlyer’s positioning: We’ve chosen sides from day one and decided that advertisers — and advertisers only — will be our customers. We do not sell anything to ad networks and have no financial relationship with any of our integrated media partners. As an Attribution Entity, this is critical to our planning for future adjustments to the AppsFlyer ecosystem, removing rogue agents from our platform and protecting our customers.

We believe that our transparent approach has not only won the trust of our customers but also of our partners and the market as a whole. After all, ad networks don’t want to be discriminated against by an attribution platform because it has chosen not to buy their products or services. They also don’t want to be forced to buy services and products to get “special treatment”.

2. Selling data

For most companies, there’s no question that data is their most important resource. Would you give a rival the contact information of your paying customers? That sounds crazy, but that’s what happens in reality. Does your attribution “partner” sell data to support your expenses? Every week, we receive emails in our inboxes from people interested in buying data (from our customers). This can be very tempting when you don’t have investors and you need to focus on revenue to fund operations. And that’s exactly why we raise significant funds to ensure that we wouldn’t be tempted to do anything that could negatively affect our customers. In fact, we have the peace of mind that we are completely focused on delivering value to our customers.

When your attribution “partner” sells data, you put everything your company does at risk. In doing so, he shows considerable conflict of interest, and it is possible that he is taking advantage of your confidence to create an unfair advantage and play for both teams.

AppsFlyer’s positioning: We do not sell and do not intend to sell our customer data. Full stop.

3. Be independent

Being independent means having the freedom to do whatever is necessary to ensure our clients’ success without conflicts of interest. Attribution providers are not independent when they sell media, services or products to ad networks. That is, founders and senior executives of an attribution provider should not invest in privately owned media companies. If they do, they not only demonstrate a conflict of interest between the company and its customers, but also between its founders/executives, the company itself, its employees and other partners.

AppsFlyer’s positioning: We will continue to do whatever it takes to maintain our independence. We do not and will never sell data or media. We do not and will never sell products or services that could negatively impact our customers’ interests. AppsFlyer founders and executives will not invest in privately held media companies. More specifically, we will never offer special treatment to any of our partners, for whatever reason.

4. Investors and partners

In recent years, we have been approached by several investors. Some of them were interested in the data market or our customers’ data, while others were agents of the media part of the mobile business. Accepting them as investors would be a threat to our impartial position. Therefore, for us, it was essential to receive funds only from financial investors that were of the magnitude of companies such as Fidelity, Goldman Sachs and others of the main CRs in the world. Our investors and board are completely transparent and accessible to everyone.

Do you know who your attribution partner’s investors, partners and board are? Do you really know what your long-term interests are? You will trust your main resource – your Dice – to these sellers?

AppsFlyer’s positioning: We will continue to reject investors who jeopardize our impartial market positioning. In every decision we make, we will continue to keep our customers’ best interests in mind. We will never engage with any activity that might have a negative impact on them.

5. A partial assignment platform can [realmente] to face mobile ad fraud?

The answer is a resounding “no”. When an attribution provider has financial relationships with privately held media companies, its anti-fraud offering is flawed. This inherent conflict of interest simply doesn’t go with the genuine effort to crack down on fraud, rather than just talk about it. After all, do you really believe that partial attribution providers would fight against or even remove fraudsters who are also paying customers of their platform? I do not believe that. See an old post I made on the subject: How Market Leadership Can Solve the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” of Fraud.

AppsFlyer’s positioning: We will continue our heavy investment in anti-fraud technologies and reject any malicious traffic we encounter, regardless of the source. We also ensure that our media partners will do the same. By taking action and raising our standards, we are committed to creating a sustainable win-win scenario for our customers, integrated media partners and the industry as a whole.

In short, Choosing an attribution provider is one of the most important decisions for most companies. When choosing AppsFlyer as your attribution partner, you can have peace of mind knowing that the company has gone through a rigorous due diligence process, led by Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and Deutsche Telekom. The process included an in-depth analysis of the competition, our products, technologies, vision and, finally, our mission. In fact, it’s our mission to do whatever it takes to help our customers succeed. It’s in our DNA.

Check out my next post in the “History of AppsFlyer” series, which is about Building Organic a Customer-Obsessed Culture.

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