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Deep links

Deep link is a uniform resource identifier (URI) that links users to a specific location within your app. Examples of such locations include merchandise, chat areas, articles, etc. Deep links shorten the path to such content for new users and help effectively interact with users who have already installed your app.

Regular deep link are used after your app has been installed. When a regular deep link is opened, the system identifies and launches its associated app, and transfers the deep link data to that app, so that it can link the user to the relevant destination content.

Regular deep links are often used to interact with the existing users that have already installed your app, for example, for retargeting and user retention.

The weak spot of this technology is that it can be used only if the app has already been installed. For new users that need to visit an app store, install and launch a new app, this technology fails, and the app, when launched, would display its home screen.

When used in tracking links, regular deep links increase the number of redirects needed to bring users to a destination page (deep link or app store); this is due to deep link implementation constraints and mobile platform specifications. So, for a marketing campaign that targets new users, deferred deep linking may be a better solution, as it reduces the number of redirects and boosts conversions.

Deferred deep links were developed to address the main shortcoming of regular deep links that cannot be used to engage new users who have just installed the app. In addition to apps and operating systems, this technology involves a third element, a server that stores information about particular device/app installation and a link to the content to be displayed to the user.

Deferred deep linking consists of the following basic steps:

  • A special link redirecting the user to an app store is generated
  • When this link is followed, the data needed for attribution and associated deep link are saved
  • The user downloads, installs, and launches your app
  • The app transmits to the server a request to check whether there is a deep link associated with the relevant user's device.
  • The server uses the data received from the app to complete attribution (finds the original link redirect, if any) and returns the associated deferred deep link to the app.

Deferred deep links will not work without a tracking library (such as MyTracker). Deferred deep links are used most frequently as part of a campaign aimed at acquiring new users. For example, you may place an ad for this or that product, and, after a click on the ad, the relevant product will be displayed, once your app is installed and launched.

Deep links rely on a variety of platform-specific technologies. Their brief descriptions and links to additional information are provided below:

  • Android
    • App URL Schema — any app can select its unique scheme to be used in deep links. For example:youla://link/to/offer, tamtam://chat/chatname.
      In these examples, youla and tamtam are URL schemes used by an app. After that, the app may set up the Intent filter and intercept links that match the scheme specified in the filter. For more details, see the Android documentation
    • Android App Links – the app may set intent filter to work with standard http/https links and domain names. When a link matching the filter is followed, the user will be prompted to open that link in the relevant app. For more details, see the Android documentation
  • iOS
    • URL Schemes — just like with Android, your app may select and register a URL-scheme, and any links matching that scheme will be opened in the relevant app. For more implementation details, refer to the iOS documentation
    • Universal links — similarly to Android App Links, one or several domains can be associated with an app, after which links that match filter specifications will be opened in that application. For more information on universal links, refer to iOS documentation

Different types of deep links can be combined or used independently. As a rule, provided that this is supported by the app tracking system, special-purpose links, such as smart link, onelink, etc, are generated. What sets them apart is the fact that they can be used on all platforms, for both new and existing users.

Smart links operation can be summarised as follows:

  • A user follows a link
  • User’s platform is identified (Android/iOS) and app installation is checked
  • If the app is installed:
    • A regular deep link associated with the original link will be opened
  • If the app is not installed:
    • The user will be redirected to a platform-specific app store
    • The user will download, install and launch the relevant app
    • The app will contact the server and obtain a deferred deep link associated with the original link

This approach may be used in MyTracker, provided that you have activated "Use a deep link if the app is installed" and configured deferred and regular deep links. For more details on deep linking, refer to Deep link settings; for information on smart links and their support in MyTracker, refer to Smart tracking link.

MyTracker supports both regular and deferred links:

  • for iOS: URL Schemes and Universal Links (since iOS 9.2 Apple strongly recommends using Universal Links);
  • for Android: App URL Schemas and App Links.

API-methods provided by SDK for each platform (iOS, Android) enable a consistent approach to implementation of regular and deferred deep links.

For more information on implementing deep link support and using deep links in marketing campaigns, refer to Deep link settings

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