Measurement Platforms Full Review

Appsflyer

www.appsflyer.com

  • Type: Mobile Measurement Platform
  • Platforms: Mobile
  • Core Offering:
    • CPI Attribution, Protect360 (Attribution Fraud), People based attribution, Cost aggregation
appsflyer

Appsflyer was founded in 2012 as one of the first mobile attribution companies. The company was one of the first to offer CPI pricing to their customers and had provided an SDK for tracking and attribution across most relevant mobile apps.

Appsflyer grew very fast in China, SEA and Latin America, given the pricing offering based on tracked installs rather than based on clicks.

Many of Appsflyer customers  pledge by the dashboard appsflyer provides. Appsflyer is known for an excellent “cohort” report and pivot tables allowing customers to slice and dice their attribution data.

appsflyer measurement

During the years 2015 – Appsflyer customers started experiencing a surge in fraudulent conversions tracked by Appsflyer. Fraudulent players learned that they can easily win credit for generating conversions by doing some fishy things:

  • Generating clicks in the background of a browser and “winning” the conversion if/once a user installs an app (Click Flooding / Click Spamming)
  • Triggering a click after a user started downloading an app in order to “win” the credit for the conversion (Install Hijacking)
  • Fraudsters operating Device Farms
  • Bots generating completely fake traffic / clicks / conversions tracked
appsflyer measurement

You would think that Appsflyer would take the responsibility over these faults and defects in their own product – but no. what Appsflyer did was to launch “Protect360” – an extremely expensive premium service to allow customers to “fight fraud”.

Why did they do this ?

Simple – MONEY!

appsflyer protect360 costs

Over the next years, Appsflyer continued breaking features into “premium features” becoming an extremely expensive solution to use.

API access ? Paid Feature

Audience Management ? Paid Feature

Cost Aggregation ? Paid Feature

Data Locker ? Paid Feature

SKAdNetwork ? Paid Feature

Appsflyer raised almost $300M from institutional investors like Goldman Sachs and Salesforce. Appsflyer will do anything to squeeze out the last $ from you in order to show their investors they made a good investment.

And while the invest a ton in making you feel like you are important to them as a customer – the only thing that is important to Appsflyer is your $$$$$$.

appsflyer costs

Integration / Development Needed

You will need to integrate the Appsflyer SDK to use Appsflyer measurement platform. Appsflyer offers the following SDKs:

  • Android
  • Amazon Fire
  • Android Uninstall measurement
  • iOS SDK
  • App Clicks
  • Unity SDK
  • React Native plugin
  • Unreal Engine
  • Adobe Air
  • Cordova
  • Cocos2ds
  • Xamarin Android
  • NativeScript
  • Flutter
  • Windows and XBOX SDK

Appsflyer does provide solid documentation and testing apps to their integration , but obviously – you will need engineering resources in order to get the integration working for your apps.

appsflyer integration

Appsflyer was also very proud to offer “People Based Attribution” , allowing Advertisers to integrate their own 1st party and web (desktop) data , however, given the recent changes in privacy regulations, it’s unclear if this product is still supported.

appsflyer integration process

Onboarding

Appsflyer offers a ton of tutorials and videos showing you how to use the platform. You can also join online sessions, webinars, and have 1:1 calls with a customer success manager if you are an enterprise customer.

While appsflyer offers a very complex platform – you can master almost all features within a week or so.

The Activity Dashboard

appsflyer onboarding

Overview across all marketing channels

appsflyer onboarding process

App Settings:

appsflyer onboarding

Setting up campaigns with an integrated ad network:

appsflyer onboarding

Setting up costs from ad network partners:

appsflyer onboarding process

Support

Appsflyer ranked highest when it came to support.

They offer a great SLA, online documentation, ticketing system, and round the clock support in your language. If you are an enterprise customer, you will also be tagged with a customer success manager who’s role is to help you get onboarded and get the most you can from the platform.

During the technical integration stage, Appsflyer also had “solutions engineers” providing support in SDK related questions and data onboarding. They also provide “testing apps” where you can make sure that everything was implemented correctly.

Appsflyer nailed the support topic!

appsflyer support

Useful insights

Here on the other hand, Appsflyer did not star. The platform provided us with deduplicated attribution data, but we saw a ton of discrepancies and fraudulent conversions.

The customer success manager tried pushing “protect360” and played dumb when we said that we believe it’s appsflyer’s own responsibility to block fraud happening in their platform.

And if you want to use Protect360, prepare to pay – (are you sitting down?)

$25,000 per month. YES.

To make things perfectly clear – this is like your bank telling you that if you want your bank account protected from anyone being able to penetrate it and steal money from you, you’ll need to pay for “premium protection” – and the costs will be $25,000 per month.

Appsflyer COULD have offered this product for free, like Kochava, Singular, and Branch did.

They could price it closer to $5,000 per month, like Adjust did.

But they chose to charge for it. A LOT.

appsflyer protect360

Other than “fraud” – Appsflyer does not offer any other insights, just reporting.

Accuracy

Appsflyer has a few articles explaining about ”why discrepancies happen”. We experienced discrepancies of between 9% – 52% (!)

Appsflyer’s own documentation says the following: Recommended tolerance for Analytics data discrepancy is 10% – but Appsflyer doesn’t really come close to this.

appsflyer discrepancy

Appsflyer explains the reasons for discrepancies as the following:

  • Install vs. 1st Time Open – Appsflyer tracks an “install” when the user opens the app for the first time – not when the user installs. Could Appsflyer have named the action “1st open” ? Yes – but they chose to use the term install, as this played better with customers , even if it was false and deceptive.
  • Install record date – Appsflyer records the date of the 1st open – not of the install. If you have an app who users typically do not open in the first day of downloading (i.e. Travel Apps, Finance Apps, Taxi Apps, etc…) you will see major discrepancies here.
  • Timezone difference – relatively small impact
  • iOS uninstall and re-install – Appsflyer tracks this as one event, while the app store tracks it as unique events
  • App Update – The app store regards this as the same user, but Appsflyer will count this as a NEW INSTALL!!!!
  • “Limit Ad Tracking” – If a user is using the OS privacy settings, the OS / AppStore will track the install , while Appsflyer will not.
  • FRAUD – Appsflyer will track a lot of installs that never happened. The only way around it will be to pay their “protection bribe” – just like the mafia does.
appsflyer attribution measurement

Secure

Appsflyer offers very little security if you are not willing to pay for Protect360.

They invested a lot of money in SEO so that you can’t find the amount of complaints from customers, but if you search some relevant communities and groups, you’ll see how many customers faced enormous amount of headache and waste.

Appsflyer themselves say that they see almost 23% of traffic as fraudulent traffic. You would think that this would make them consider their basic service by blocking fraud themselves – but no. Either you are forced to pay for their protection , or you need to deal with fraud yourself by checking the stats and negotiating with networks to block fraudulent publishers yourself.

appsflyer fraud

Even the widely known Appsflyer “Index” names some terrible ad networks as being “top quality”. This shows how much Appsflyer is biased towards whatever ad network allows them to either charge a lot on installs, or charge even more for their “protection”.

Privacy compliant

When Apple announced the deprecation of IDFA, Appsflyer launched a series of (panicked) articles saying how much they are coordinated and aligned with Apple.

Appflyer was certain that they could continue using fingerprinting.

appsflyer privacy idfa

The reality was that appsflyer was completely unprepared to this change, and chose to completely ignore the privacy restrictions by continuing to use Fingerprinting in their latest SDK.

This places your app in extreme risk of getting banned from the app store!!!!

To add insult to injury , Appsflyer launched an “incrementality” product for retargeting in October of 2020. 4 months AFTER Apple announced the privacy regulations.

Appsflyer markets this product as the holy grail of measurement, but fails to mention the fact that their incrementality product requires you to create a split audience test, and only work for retargeting campaigns.

If you really want to measure incrementality – we recommend that you check out INCRMNTAL

appsflyer incrementality

Update: It seems like Appsflyer either deprecated their “incrementality” product or at least, are no longer pushing this to customers.

Unbiased vs. Biased

Out of all measurement platforms, Appsflyer was one of the most biased one.

Ironic, as Appsflyer posted several times about how “unbiased” they are.

Appsflyer needs to continuously yell about how “unbiased they are” because – THEY ARE BIASED.

First – Appsflyer raised almost $300M from investors, including Salesforce and Goldman Sachs.

Salesforce is one of the most expensive SaaS companies in the world, and Goldman Sachs, well – just check out this Wikipedia page.

When Appsflyer started getting complaints about how insecure their product was (fraud) – rather than fix the problem, they inflated the problem and created a premium “feature” to squeeze more money out of their customers.

With iOS14.5 and especially with iOS15 – Appsflyer is a redundant product, yet, Appsflyer continues hiring people to inflate their own numbers. They invest a lot in marketing their solution as “customer centric” – but anyone with brain knows that this is just marketing BS.

appsflyer unbias

Pricing Model & Price

Appsflyer pricing model is based on Cost Per Install and additional costs for various products.

The basic cost per install starts at $0.05 per install , and goes down to around $0.01 for extremely high volumes.

But they could be tricking you, as their pricing has a lot of fine small lines that could end up costing you a fortune before you know it.

Their way to lock you into a year commitment is to get you to fuck up the package (i.e. if you happen to have more MAUs, or in-app events) – it will only take one inflated invoice for them to ”offer you a better deal”. Just like the mafia.

With only 5M installs tracked, Appsflyer will cost you $162,500.

If you go over the MAUs, or installs, or in-app events, or applications, or users, or pull API costs….your invoices will very quickly climb up to $500,000!!!

appsflyer pricing

These costs do not include:

  • Protect360 – An additional $25,000 per month (!)
  • “Data Locker” – About $4,000 per month
  • API access – $3,000 per month
  • Audience Tool – $6,000 per month

So – “all in” for a marketer that only tracks 5 million installs a year (including organics) your Appsflyer costs could end up at $618,500

appsflyer pricing

Review Summary:

Appsflyer is the largest mobile attribution company with over 1,000 employees and the most amount of developers as their customers. Appsflyer provides tracking and attribution using device IDs and fingerprinting. Recently, Appsflyer also declared that it will assist developers in handling SKAdnetwork postbacks (at least until iOS15 – when developers will have direct access to the Skadnetwork postbacks).

Appsflyer is known to publish a yearly ”index” ranking ad networks based on volume and quality. Appsflyer index is known as a very skewed report, as over the years, the ad networks that “starred” at the top were networks who are now known as some of the most fraud infested ad networks. With over 1,000 employees – Appsflyer has best in class support. Their SDKs are very stable and out of all measurement platforms – the appsflyer SDK needed the least iterations with our tech teams.

Appsflyer launched an “incrementality” feature recently – but forgot to mention that this feature uses IDFAs and audiences.

Appsflyer is pretty expensive. We paid in average $24,100 per month – this is without adding premium features like SKAdnetwork and “protect360” (a tool that helps limit the fraud that goes through appsflyer’s own system)

Pros & Cons:

  • Pretty expensive platform, and can get even more expensive with “premium features” (anti-attribution fraud, handling skadnetwork, audience builder)
  • Support is great. Friendly and very professional.
  • Appsflyer is a legacy platform – as large as they are – their solutions does not meet the new restrictions and regulations in the market.
  • The pivot table reports appsflyer has are really useful. Just like excel!

Measurement Platforms Review for Appsflyer:

Support★★★★★★★★★Onboarding★★★★★★★★★
No Dev Needed★★★★★★★★☆Privacy Compliant★★★★★☆☆☆☆
Accuracy★★★★★☆☆☆☆Pricing Model★★★★★☆☆☆☆
Useful Insights★★★★☆☆☆☆☆Price★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Unbiased★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆Secure★★★★☆☆☆☆☆