Glossary
Mobile App Terminology simply explained

What Are Postbacks?

A postback is the exchange of information between various servers after an in-app event or app install has occurred. They allow you to track installs and user activity within an app.

By triggering postbacks for key events, developers are notified of real-time data, which helps them monitor events for the sake of reporting and checking their app’s health, such as when a user makes an in-app purchase.
Key Takeaways
  • Developers receive real-time data to which they can respond and make necessary changes in their app
  • Advertisers can better optimize their campaigns with postbacks providing a useful feedback loop
  • Postback URLs send information about an in-app event or install back to your designated server

How Do Postbacks Work?

Tracking requires triggers for certain events completed in your app. When an ad network integrates with a mobile measurement partner (MMP), the ad network shares the postback URLs for different types of postbacks (install postback or in-app event postback) with the MMP.

But please note: You should consider when you want postbacks triggered. Requesting them for every action completed in your app will overload your internal servers and – in the worst-case scenario – negatively affect the performance and analysis of your app.

Does Operating System Matter?

Depending on the operating system – iOS or Android – postback URLs can still provide you with important data, even when the user has opted out of cookies, since this user data is sent directly from the mobile device. 

Currently, Android allows you to attribute installs to individual devices, even if the user has opted out of the GAID. The postbacks would trigger in the app and then be sent via the MMP server to the ad network’s server. With devices operating on iOS, you can only use postbacks to measure campaign performance if the user has opted in to the IDFA.

In this instance, the postback would trigger in the advertised app, and the device would make the postbacks to the ad network and MMP. The postback will contain limited information, such as which campaign ID was attributed – but not the device used.

What Types of Postbacks Are There?

There are two types of postbacks you should make note of.

1. Install Postbacks

These are triggers sent when a user installs your app. These can be used to track new users. Install postbacks can also include parameters such as media source, cost per install, click ID, device type and search query, so you can receive even more specific postback data about your users.

abstract image of what install postbacks are

2. In-App Event Postbacks

This type of postback is sent when a user completes an action that you want to track, such as making a purchase or level completed. This information is used to generate detailed reports about how users are interacting with your app in real time, so you can measure performance or make changes quickly if needed.

abstract creative of in-app event postback

There are some in-app events that are triggered by the MMP SDK itself without the publisher having to trigger them. These are known as app open events.

Examples of In-App Events You Can Track

In-app events could additionally include screen views, clicks, and form submissions.

  • Screen views: A screen view is registered when a user opens or scrolls to a new screen within the app. Screen views are used to track how users are moving through your application and which screens are most popular.
  • Clicks: Clicks are registered when a user taps on an element in the app, such as a link, button, or ad. Clicks can be used to measure click-through rates for links and buttons.
  • Form submissions: Form submissions occur when a user submits a form. These submissions can be used to track how users are completing specific actions within your app, such as creating an account or making a purchase.

Postback Tracking Explained: Why Do You Need a Postback?

Don’t underestimate the importance of tracking postbacks for advertisers and media sources. You’re essentially receiving a feedback loop in your app. This means you make data-driven and informed decisions when you optimize ad campaigns and conversion rates.  

We’ve broken down the two most important benefits of postbacks for you:

Generate Real-Time User Behavior Reports

Using postback tracking, you can track users and analyze that all-important user behavior.

Developers can run postbacks on crash reports, for example, so that if an update results in user churn due to technical issues, they can spot the problem early and correct it. With in-app events postbacks, you can combine them and aggregate them in any way you want – for example, cohorted by day of install, cohorted by day of first purchase, etc.

Or let’s imagine, for example, you notice a spike in reengaged users after sending them a push notification to remind them of the rewards they’ve earned. You might want to replicate this campaign in the future to see if it has the same effect in driving your users back to your app.

 Be Less Prone to Fraud

Postback tracking is less prone to fraud compared to other methods of tracking. 

MMPs usually have mechanisms in place in order to prevent faking event triggers sent from the end user’s device. Besides this, ad networks have security tokens – and sometimes whitelists – to avoid fake postback callbacks. 

young lady looking down at her phone in the street with icons for install postbacks and event postbacks

Conclusion

Postback is an essential tool for mobile app tracking. Not only does it allow you to monitor your marketing campaigns and where your installs come from – they also provide insights into your user’s app behavior, making them an essential foundation for building a successful app.


FAQs

What Is Postback?

A postback is a process that occurs when a mobile app sends data to an external server, such as the marketing company or ad network that is serving up ads. This process can happen automatically in real time during user activity inside an app or take place after users have completed events.

What Is a Postback Event?

A postback event is an action that a user takes within your mobile app that you want to track. There are three types of postback events: screen views, clicks, and form submissions.

What Is a Postback URL?

A postback URL is a URL that is created by a conversion-tracking platform. This URL is then accessed by an affiliate network when a conversion takes place. When the postback URL is called up, the affiliate network passes on contextual data such as the conversion value, the product name, or the conversion type.


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