Re-engagement FAQ

Learn about retargeting, re-engagement, and Singular's re-engagement attribution process. For more about Singular attribution, see Understanding Singular Mobile App Attribution.

 

Troubleshooting

Why does a report show new installs (and not just re-engagements) for a re-engagement campaign?

While it's true that re-engagement (retargeting) campaigns are aimed at existing users of your product, your reports may show that the campaigns resulted in some installs (i.e., new users) as well.

This is due to the technical definition of "re-engagement event" vs. "install" in Singular. When Singular receives a first user session from a device - i.e., a session from a device is not listed in the Singular database as having the app installed on it - it is counted as an install, even if the campaign type is re-engagement/retargeting. 

Why does a campaign that is marked as retargeting = false have some re-engagements?

This can be caused by a discrepancy between the data pulled through the tracker (re-engagements) and the data reported by the network (whether a campaign is a retargeting campaign or not). This can happen even with self-attributed networks (SANs). For example, there are cases in which Facebook does not mark a campaign as a retargeting campaign but still claims a session attributed to that campaign as a re-engagement.

FAQ

Terminology

What is re-engagement?

In general terms, re-engagement with a mobile app is a renewed use of the app by a user who has already installed the app in the past. 

Re-engagement is the result of successful retargeting. A retargeting campaign is one that targets existing users of a product, aiming to get them interested in the product again.

In Singular, re-engagement is defined as the user's opening of an app they have already used before, following a period of inactivity and then a click on a retargeting ad.

In other words, Singular counts a re-engagement event if the user:

  1. Used the app in the past,
  2. Stopped using it for a certain period of time,
  3. Clicked a retargeting ad, and
  4. Has now opened the app.

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Once Singular recognizes a re-engagement event, it triggers a process of re-engagement attribution to credit the partner network that caused the engagement.

Re-engagements are tracked as a metric in the same way that Singular tracks app installs, and you can see their numbers in your reports.

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See also: How do I configure a Singular Link for re-engagement/retargeting?

What is re-engagement attribution?

Once Singular recognizes a re-engagement event, it triggers a process of re-engagement attribution. This works similarly to install attribution. The goal is to credit the partner network that caused the engagement.

After Singular performs re-engagement attribution for a user, any following in-app events (such as purchases or level-ups) are attributed to the source of the re-engagement rather than the source of the original app install.

How does this work behind the scenes? For each install and re-engagement that a tracker reports to us, it includes the last click time and whether the conversion is regarded as an install or a re-engagement. Singular uses this information in combination with the date of the install reported by the Singular SDK to decide whether the reported conversion is an install or a re-engagement.

What is the inactivity window? How do I customize it?

The inactivity window or inactivity period is the time that has to pass without the user using the app for that user to be eligible for a re-engagement process.

By default, the inactivity window is 7 days. This means that a user who used the app less than 7 days ago and now clicks on a retargeting campaign does not trigger a re-engagement attribution.

You can customize the inactivity window per app by going to Settings > Apps.

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For example, setting the inactivity window to 4 days means that a user must be inactive for at least 4 days (and click a retargeting campaign ad) for the next opening of the app to count as a re-engagement event.

Note: Test devices (devices that you added to the SDK console) are exempt from the inactivity window as long as they have the eye icon enabled in the console. To learn more, see Using the SDK Console.

What is retargeting? What are retargeting campaigns?

In Singular, retargeting is a dimension that indicates whether a campaign is marked as a "retargeting campaign" or not.

A retargeting campaign is one that targets existing users of a product, aiming to get them interested in the product again.

Usually, re-engagement is the result of successful retargeting.

Tip: Not all networks support sending an indication of whether a campaign is a retargeting campaign. For example, for Facebook, we examine several indicators (e.g., the Objective of the campaign) to decide whether to mark the campaign as retargeting. Sometimes the retargeting indication can be pulled from the attribution tracker instead. Singular marks a campaign as a retargeting campaign if at least one of the sources (network or tracker) reports it as such.

What's the difference between re-engagement and retargeting in Singular reports?

In Singular, "retargeting" denotes a type of campaign that targets existing users of the app.

Therefore, Retargeting is a dimension (breakdown) you can add to your report to have it broken down by whether each campaign was configured as a retargeting campaign or not.

In contrast, Re-engagements is a metric that shows the number of re-engaged users (per app, campaign, source, etc.) in the given date range.

What's the difference between re-engagement and retention?

In Singular, retention is measuring how long your users keep using your product after conversion. For example, you can run a report to see "Retention 7d" for an app for a certain date range: this will show you how many of the users who installed an app on those dates were still using it seven days later.

A re-engagement event actually resets the retention counter for the user, as it is considered a new conversion for the same user.

See the Retention FAQ for more definitions and information.

What's the difference between re-engagement and re-install?

Re-install means installing the app again after uninstalling. This does not necessarily signify re-engagement. 

Like any user session, the first session after a re-install may or may not trigger a re-engagement attribution process, depending on whether the user has been inactive for the required period of time (the inactivity window) and whether this session is coming after a click on a retargeting ad. 

Note: Campaigns running on Apple Search Ads are an exception to this rule. Apple Search Ads reports re-installs and re-engagements together, so the number of re-engagements you see in Singular reports for these campaigns includes re-installs.

What is the attribution lookback window for re-engagement attribution, and how do I customize it?

In the context of re-engagement, the attribution lookback window determines how far back Singular looks for a click on a retargeting campaign to determine whether a session is a re-engagement session.

When you set up your partner in the Partner Configuration page, you can customize the attribution lookback window. The same window applies to install attributions and re-engagement attributions.

When you create a tracking link, you can override the default attribution window for the partner and set a different window for each individual link (see the Singular Links FAQ). 

What date is considered to be the date of re-engagement?

The date of re-engagement is the date on which the user opened the app after clicking the retargeting ad.

Usage

How do I measure the performance of my retargeting campaigns in Singular reports? How do I view re-engagements in Singular reports?

To track your retargeting campaigns' performance, include the following fields in your reports:

  • The Retargeting dimension: Lets you know whether each campaign was defined as a retargeting campaign or not.
  • The Re-engagements metric: Contains the number of re-engagement events attributed to a campaign.

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Note: Sometimes you may see re-engagements attributed to non-retargeting campaigns (see Facebook example).

Conversely, you may see new installs attributed to retargeting campaigns. This is because when Singular receives a first user session from a new device (i.e., a session from a device that is not listed in the Singular database yet) it is counted as an install, even if the campaign type is "retargeting".

What do re-engagement postbacks look like?

Re-engagement postbacks to partners and internal BIs are based on the same templates as the install and event attribution postbacks.

In case of a re-engagement postback, the {IS_RE_ENG} macro can be used to differentiate between install and re-engagement attributions, and relevant timestamp fields would apply to the re-engagement event instead of the install event. For more information about the postback fields, see the Postback Macros and Passthrough Parameters.

How many times can the re-engagement attribution process be repeated?

There is no limit on the number of re-engagements per user.

Advanced Questions

What methods does Singular use to perform re-engagement attribution? How is it different from the install attribution process?

The re-engagement attribution process is similar to the install attribution process, with some of the main differences being:

  Install Attribution Re-engagement Attribution
Trigger Triggered by the first user session on a device unknown to Singular. Triggered by a user session that follows an inactivity window and a click on a retargeting ad.
Attribution Methods Deterministic + Probabilistic Deterministic methods only. Singular performs re-engagement attribution only if device identifiers are available or the app was opened through a Singular deep link (see the Singular Links FAQ).
Conversion Type Supports click-through (click-based tracking links) and view-through (impression-based tracking links) Supports click-through tracking links only
How does Singular determine that a certain session is a re-engagement?

For every user session that is not the first session on the device, Singular performs the following process:

  • Singular looks at the inactivity window defined for the app and checks whether the user has been active within that period.
  • If the user has been inactive for the required period of time, Singular looks back in its touchpoint database to see if there has been a click on a retargeting ad from the same device. Singular needs the ad campaign to be marked as a retargeting campaign. You do this by enabling re-engagement attribution when you create the Singular tracking link. Note that not all partner networks support this type of campaign.
  • For Self-Attributing Networks (SANs), which do not support Singular tracking links, Singular just sends the session information to the network and receives back information on whether the user has clicked on a relevant retargeting ad in the network.

If Singular finds one or more clicks on retargeting ads prior to the session, it starts the re-engagement attribution process, based on the last-touch attribution model.

Note: SANs may have their own twists on whether a click counts as a retargeting click, and the nature of working with SANs means that Singular has to accept the partner's report. For example, Facebook has a user retention period of six months. This means that six months after an app install, Facebook forgets the install, and may target the same user again with user acquisition ads (not retargeting ads). If the user clicks on such an ad, and Singular later queries Facebook for retargeting clicks, Facebook will report that there has indeed been a retargeting click.

What is Singular's flow for populating re-engagements and retargeting?

Non-Self-Attributing Networks:

  1. A customer creates a tracking link with re-engagement enabled (a prerequisite for this is that the partner is also marked as one that supports re-engagement).
  2. Singular receives a user session and recognizes that it is a repeat session (not the first session seen for that device).
  3. Singular checks whether the session passes the inactivity window (meaning that the previous session was more than 7 days ago, or however many days were configured for the app). If so, it is marked as a re-engagement.
  4. Singular starts the attribution process, looking for matching clicks on re-engagement tracking links.
  5. If Singular can attribute the re-engagement, the event (click) is flagged as retargeting = true. This means that the same campaign can have rows where retargeting = true and rows where retargeting = false. However, re-engagements are all mapped to rows where retargeting = true.

Self-Attributing Networks (SANs):

  1. For each session, we send the details to the SAN.
  2. The SAN tells us whether they take credit for the session or not. 
  3. If the session was the first session for the device, Singular interprets it as a new install. If the session was not the first session, Singular interprets it as a re-engagement. 
  4. However, similarly to how we treat installs with SANs, Singular may override the SAN's statement, either because the click reported by the SAN does not fall within Singular's lookback window, or because Singular identifies another click that is relevant to the user session and that is more recent than the SAN's click.
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