What are postbacks?

A postback is the exchange of information between servers to report a user’s action on a website, network, or app. In the context of the mobile app ecosystem, a postback is a ping to the ad network when any app install or in-app conversion event is detected.

Mobile measurement platforms (MMPs) will typically notify advertisers of specific event data via postbacks. Branch also triggers postbacks for specific subsections of events, and these postbacks can be filtered by link data, user data or event properties. Advertisers tend to focus on two types of postbacks primarily:

  • Install postbacks which notify the ad source with the attribution of an install
  • In-app event postbacks which notify the ad source about an in-app event once the app has been installed

Postbacks are crucial because they provide a valuable feedback loop for developers and marketers to optimize their ad campaigns in real time. First, postbacks help verify data across devices, ad networks, and other MMPs accurately and effectively. Second, by improving the verifiability of attribution data, it supports more accurate CPI based billing and helps optimize ad spends and improve the ROAS on paid channels. Third, with improved visibility into post-install activity, postbacks help understand user behavior and drive successful retargeting campaigns.

To ensure advertising operations are compliant with the privacy policies of leading mobile platforms, savvy advertisers today must keep abreast with ever-evolving technicalities and best practices around the kinds of data that is shareable within the postbacks. For example, it might be worthwhile to further dig into the enforcement of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework as part of iOS 14.5 when the entire postback mechanism governing iOS campaigns was effectively split into two buckets between those from consenting iOS users and those from non-consenting iOS users.