The Difference Between App to App and Web to App Advertising

Written by , Director of Marketing at HasOffers

Mobile devices – and the apps contained within them – are increasingly “always on.” This always on phenomenon presents a perfect opportunity for advertisers to drive meaningful engagement where messages are an integrated and seamless part of the user experience.

App to App vs. Web to App

Mobile app and mobile web are the two mediums that advertisers can use as a forum for their marketing and advertising offers.

Mobile App: According to Flurry 86 percent of the time people spend on their mobile devices is within apps. In fact, they recently released a report describing how “Mobile Addicts” launch appsmore than 60 times a day. This is why mobile app inventory is among the most attractive inventory for advertisers: it’s where most of the market attention is focused.

Many app publishers also have valuable first-party behavioral and demographic data that advertisers can use for enhanced targeting. As a result, mobile app inventory is the highest priced segment of the mobile inventory spectrum.

Mobile Web: Mobile web means your creatives will be shown in their proper mobile sizes, resulting in a higher rate of visibility and engagement. Mobile web inventory is similar to mobile app inventory in terms of creative sizes, but the ad shows in a web environment rather than an app environment.

A user can navigate between an ad and the offer destination in two ways:

App-to-app is the most common user experience where:

  • User is in one app (in-app) such as the “Shazam” app and sees an ad in the app for another app (such as the “Spotify” app).
  • User clicks on the ad, which opens the respective App Store (or opens the “Spotify” app if it’s an existing user who already installed it).
  • User installs or opens the “Spotify” app (assuming it’s not an existing user).

Mint Mobile App Install Ad Showing in Twitter App

Web-to-app is the scenario where:

  • User is in a web browser on their mobile device (such as Safari or Chrome on an iOS device).
  • User sees an ad on a web page for the “Supercell Clash of Clans” app.
  • User clicks on the ad, which opens the respective App Store (or opens the “Clash of Clans” app if it’s an existing user who already installed it).
  • User installs the “Clash of Clans” app (assuming it’s not an existing user).

HotelTonight App Install Ad Showing in Chrome Mobile Browser

Measuring App to App vs. Web to App Campaigns

As you start developing your mobile campaigns, you’ll want to make sure you have the right technology in place to measure the overall success of your campaign and gain insight into how to optimize specific channels to drive better results.

The attribution methods may vary, depending on where users are coming from – mobile app vs. mobile web.

While you can use a few methods to attribute app installs and in-app events, the method you implement depends on a combination of three factors:

  • Platform/App Store: iOS/Apple iTunes App Store, Android/Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore for Android, etc.
  • Engagement Type: Click-through vs. View-through measurement
  • Conversion Type: Install or In-App Event

The main difference between app-to-app and web-to-app install attribution is that you can only do Fingerprint Matching with iOS. With Google Play, you can use the Google Install Referrer string for both app-to-app and web-to-app install attribution.

This chart below shows four attribution methodologies along with the engagement and conversion type. You can see that the attribution method for installs varies based on what platform you are running campaigns on.

Install Attribution With App to App vs Web to App

While methods vary between platforms and stores when performing install attribution, the methods are very similar between Android and iOS apps (in both app-to-app and web-to-app scenarios). This similarity leads to a very big advantage when it’s time to attribute events via the Open URL with a Click ID method (to attribute app-to-app and web-to-app install events).

The chart below has the same matrix set up but shows the results if you want to measure event attribution (versus install attribution as above).

Event Attribution With App to App vs Web to App


Allocating marketing resources to mobile can help you tap into a significant market potential and make meaningful audience connections. The combination of beautiful creative, smart targeting, and accurate measurement will set you up for a successful mobile campaign.

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