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Analytics Support for App Links
by Gen Wang - August 21, 2014 at 11:20am

Today we are launching updates to App Links to make it easier for developers to analyze and segment their mobile traffic. Developers who implement the Facebook SDK will now be able to use App Links to access information about their app. This is done through Facebook App Insights, where they can understand the demographics and usage patterns of people using their apps. These updates will help developers better understand the value of App Links and create better experiences for people using their apps.

Since we launched App Links at f8 in April 2014, we've seen over 3 billion unique App Links created across hundreds of apps including Spotify, Mailbox, Hulu, Vimeo, and Airbnb. Additionally, today AppLinks.org is announcing a number of cross-platform improvements and additional analytics features, which you can find here.

Setting Up Analytics for App Links

Starting today, the Bolts SDK will support sending events so that developers can measure the traffic flowing through each App Link, using Facebook's SDK for iOS and Android. Bolts Framework implements the App Links protocol and raises measurement notifications for App Links-related events including:

  • 'al_nav_out' — this event is raised in the referring app when it sends out an App Links url
  • 'al_nav_in' — this event is raised in the receiving app when it opens an incoming App Links url or intent
  • 'al_ref_back_out' (iOS only) — this event is raised in the receiving app when someone navigates back from the receiving app to the referring app by tapping on the navigate-back bar

App Events allow you to understand engagement with your app with just a few lines of code. You can get started with this by downloading the latest version of the Facebook SDK, which also includes the Bolts SDK, and logging your app launch events with Facebook.

Accessing Analytics for App Links

Once your app is updated to send App Events for your App Links, that data can be accessed by either browsing under the events you have logged in App Insights or by the Graph API. These three App Events will be added with a prefix of “bf_” to indicate that they are forwarded from the Bolts Framework. From there, App Insights will help you understand the makeup of people engaging with your app. This includes anonymous and aggregated demographic information like age, gender, language and country, among others.

In addition, we're adding calculation of time spent in your app for incoming App Links that also shows the referring app. We expect that these improvements will help you better understand and optimize usage patterns for your app.

For more detailed instructions on how to set up analytics for App Links, please see the documentation.