Why Firebase Should not be Used to Optimize App Install Campaigns. Analysis

As a consultant to startups, I have worked with all major app tracking softwares. One of the main questions I’m always being asked is “which tool is best?”. Well, depends on your business and marketing goals.

Below you will find an audit of Google Firebase versus Appsflyer, which in my mind is one of the best app tracking softwares out there. Enjoy!

1)    Firebase is a great tool for app developers as it allows to:

  1. Track attribution: knowing where app installs are coming from
  2. Measure in-app usage and behavior (first opens, purchase, etc.)
  3. Clearly quantify uninstalls
  4. Set up deep-linking
  5. Configure notifications

2)    Firebase is not a performance marketing tool as it falls short in major categories which severely impact media performance, optimization and overall efficiency.

  1. Real time bidding: Firebase relays post click activity (installs and in app events) to vendors with a 4-6 hour delay minimum.  As a result, vendors are reticent about running a performance campaign with Firebase as they don’t know in real-time which publications/networks are best.
  2. At least 5 vendors declined to run a performance campaign for NPR, including AppLovin, InMobi, Opera, etc.  All of these vendors are on the “Approved Firebase Partner” list
  3. Inability to aggressively scale: because of the delayed post-click issue, it takes a longer time to scale spend as vendors will not invest heavily until they know with more accuracy which traffic sources drive highest conversions
  4. Inability to identify channels that drive highest user retention: Firebase provides retention by active user cohorts, NOT by source
  5. Social integration: Firebase doesn’t support Facebook and Instagram for example. If you are running Facebook ads independent of your measurement partner, you would not have insights into multi-touch attribution and potentially pay for duplicate installs if you are advertising to similar audiences.
  6. Fraud detection: it does not track suspicious device IDs which may lead to “fake” installs
  7. Data onboarding: Firebase does not allow you to send all networks (including FB) all the in-app event to create custom and lookalike audiences automatically

3)    In addition, I always encounter major discrepancies in tracking between what the Ad Networks show and what Firebase shows.

4)    There are many tracking tools available out there that offer the desired integrations needed in order to run optimal programmatic campaigns. Some of the biggest include AppsFlyer, Kochava, Tune

5)    I strongly recommend AppsFlyer to all of our clients:

  1. Integration with 2,000+ install vendors and networks: install and in-app usage is relayed to install vendors in real time
  2. Ability to track Facebook & Instagram campaigns, including user level data. Plus full integration with Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest
  3. Support – AppsFlyer provides 24/7 support and because of CLS personal relationships with them, response time is usually within the hour
  4. Ability to send all networks (including FB) all the in-app event to create custom and lookalike audiences automatically
  5. Ability to set up deep linking
  6. Omni-channel LTV. AppsFlyer is able to show you not only events that occurred in the app but also events that happened on desktop to give you the true life time value of a user
  7. Uninstall attribution reporting for both iOS and Android
  8. Fraud detection. AppsFlyer can now help detect suspicious device IDs so that we don’t have to pay for “fake” installs

6)    AppsFlyer offers a tiered pricing approach. I can leverage personal relationships with Appsflyer and possibly even secure a 30-50% discount on the monthly minimum fee for enterprise accounts.

  1. Monthly minimum is $2,000 for up to 40,000 paid installs/month.
  2. Additional installs are charged at .025cents each
  3. All in-app events are free of charge

If anyone out there needs help in figuring out what tracking tool to use, please do not hesitate to contact me at patrick@mobileevco.com.