Enabling Mobile App Tracking for Analytics


Enabling tracking

One of exciting project I’m working on involves enabling mobile analytics capabilities on mobile native apps. Generally speaking, good news is that many tools that we’ve been using in web analytics world support mobile analytics tracking. I’m sure through recent years of mobile growth, I’m sure these companies have worked really hard to bridge the gaps to make marketers data needs reflected in the complex work of mobile app development.

The concept of slapping a tag or pixel on mobile app is quite different in mobile app. You’ll here a lot of the word ‘SDK’ or software development kit. That is because pretty much all the 3rd party analtyics tracker would need to be deployed into the mobile app’s code.

Looks like this.

Google Analytics Mobile SDK example

Source: Tetsuya Shiraishi – Google Analytics Framework

This google’s article on best practices for mobile app analytics is actually informative. I believe it could apply to most of the 3rd party analytics tracking, too.

  • Track different apps in separate properties.
  • Track different platforms of an app in different properties.
  • Track app editions based on feature similarities.
  • Track different app versions in the same property.

So if you have two different apps and have each in both Google Play and Apple App Store, then it’ll look like this in Google Analytics:

GA property 1: App A & iOS
GA property 2: App A & Android
GA property 3: App B & iOS
GA property 4: App B & Android

Great news for those who have been using Tag Manager. Yes, many tag manager systems support mobile app deployment, hence you can use tag manager to deploy varoius 3rd party trackers without having engineers to code gazillion SDKs. Make sure to check with your vendor and read through the documentations.

You also want to make sure that the tags you plan to install into tag manager can talk with the data objects defined within tag manager, sometimes called as container tag and associated universal data objects.


Campaign Tracking

Event though you might see tag manager saving many of the pain points, that is really not the end of the mobile analytics tracking saga. Especially, some tools are optimized to worked in certain ways, so that the app store data could be integrated with the analytics tools.

Google Analytics for example, in order to get the Google Play or Apple App Store data to talk with Google Analytics, you’ll need to make sure that Google Analytics is set up with proper store identifier ID. That’ll give you valuable information like app installs per campaign sources, where without this set up you’ll lose the source attribution data when users land on the app store landing page.

Here is a good video that describes this process.



Although I highlighted Google Analytics in examples here, it is important to understand your business needs and priorities. At the end of the day, most marketers want to know which and how each marketing stategies or tactics are working, so they can make better decisions to improve the marketing spend. That said, various tools are positioned to do well in different areas:

  • Tracking campaign performance measuring against the installs
  • In app usage and engagement.  (Typically event tracking based tools do well in this)
  • A/B testing
  • Campaign attribution analysis
  • Mobile app platform performance (or server side performance)

Think through and discuss with your team on the needs. You’ll soon learn that to get all the needs out, there are probably going to require many SDKs implemented than what you may have initially thought.

A lot is happening in the mobile app tracking for marketing, so feel free to share your experience here.


Great writings/discussions on mobile analytics




Kris Twitter

As a data journalist, I enjoy curating and analyzing marketing trends, and data. The things that fascinate me the most are the transforming business landscape due to evolving marketing technologies.