SmartTags and Destinations

Last Updated: Feb 07, 2017 07:16PM PST
SmartTags simplify and improve the accuracy of delivering cross-platform marketing programs to iOS and Android devices by landing the user on the exact destination they are supposed to go to, regardless of their platform or app install state. Read our blog post for more on the story. 
For each SmartTag you can specify iOS and Android deeplinks and fallback app store URLs, so your existing users do not go through the extra step of loading the app store page. You can also specify dynamic deeplink destinations for each of these platforms, to land users on a specific page within the application depending on their interaction with the ad. For all other platforms, you can specify a default web URL destination for your users. Here is the redirect flow for users clicking on SmartTag campaigns:


How do SmartTags work?

SmartTags use what is called a Destination. A Destination is a grouping of up to 6 destination URLs:
  • iOS deeplink
  • iOS Universal Links (iOS 9+ only)
  • iOS fallback URL
  • Android deeplink
  • Android fallback URL
  • Web URL 
You can then create a SmartTag campaign and assign it a destination, resulting in a single tag that automatically handles redirects to each of the five URLs depending on the platform and the app install state.

Otherwise, SmartTags work the same way as Attribution Tracking Tags – simply send the SmartTag to your ad network partner, and Apsalar dynamically lands each customer on the perfect destination and tracks install and re-engagement attributions for your iOS and Android apps.
Please note, similar to Attribution Tracking Tags, reporting on SmartTags is tied to your iOS and Android applications tracked with Apsalar. As a result reporting on web URL clicks is not available at the moment.


What are some of the use cases?

Email campaigns

Emails can be opened by your users on a variety of devices. Given the limitation of targeting specific platforms for email campaigns, with SmartTags you can create a single tag for your email campaign, and users will reach your application regardless of where they open your email.

Re-engagement campaigns

Retargeting networks frequently segment the target audience to only reach users that have the app installed. They will then send users directly to a deeplink within the application. But what if the user has uninstalled the application and the deeplink URL cannot load? SmartTags allow you to avoid this scenario and automatically land users on the App Store page to re-install your application. 

Dynamic Landing Pages

Frequently retargeting networks send users to specific destinations within the application depending on the ad the user clicked. With SmartTags you can utilize Apsalar macros in your deeplink URLs to automatically collect the advertising data and land the user on dynamic destinations within the app. Reference our support article for more information. 

Fewer Tags! 

With SmartTags you can cover 5 different destinations using a single tag, cutting down your effort and the number of tags by five.


How to create a SmartTag 

Note: For Google iOS campaigns, please use SmartTags with no deeplink configured on the destination. Alternatively, use Attribution Tracking Tags.

1) Create a Destination

To get started with SmartTags, you first need to create a Destination. 
  1. Navigate to Attribution Tracking
  2. Navigate to the Destinations tab
  3. Select Create Destination


  4. Enter a Name and Description for your destination. Use values that describe your goal for the destination and that you can easily reference in the future. 

  5. For iOS and Android platforms, select the corresponding applications for this destination

  6. Selecting the application will automatically load the base deeplink and app store URLs entered for your application. You can edit the URLs to land users on specific pages in the app, or other fallback URLs. To use macros in deeplink URLs and create dynamic destinations, reference this article on the topic.   

  7. For all platforms other than iOS and Android, specify a web URL. The web URL may also be used as destination URL on iOS and Android platforms if the destination is missing the platform's fallback App Store URL. It is highly recommended to specify a web URL as a fallback for your destinations. 


2) Create a SmartTag campaign

Once you have created a Destination, generate SmartTags for your campaigns: 
  1. Navigate to Attribution Tracking 
  2. Navigate to the Smart Tags tab
  3. Select Create Campaign button 

  4. Enter a campaign name, and select a destination from the dropdown for the campaign

  5. Similar to Attribution Tracking Tags, enter your Campaign Group name, and select one or more Campaign Sources. Integrated ad networks can be selected as Campaign Sources from the autocomplete dropdown, or you can manually enter the Campaign Source name for organic sources, for example "Email" or "Website Home Page" 

  6. Save the SmartTag campaign by selecting the green checkmark. The SmartTag can be copied by hovering over the Tracking Tag column value, or using the Export tags(CSV) option under Actions


Managing Destinations

Destinations can be re-used across multiple SmartTag campaigns. It is encouraged to create a default destination for your apps which should cover the majority of use cases. For special promotions requiring more custom landing pages, you can create additional destinations and edit them as needed. 

To view a list of all Destinations for your account and for the applications you are authorized for, navigate to the Destinations tab under Attribution Tracking


View Destination Definition

To easily view what URLs each destination is using, simply hover over the platform logo to view the Deeplink and Fallback URL for that platform. 

Edit Destination

Destinations and their associated destination URLs can be edited without modifying live SmartTags. If you need to update one of the URLs for a destination, simply select Edit from the Actions button. Note, updated URLs will go into effect immediately, and all SmartTags using the updated destination will begin to redirect users to the new URLs. 

Delete Destination

If you are no longer using a Destination, you can delete it by selecting Delete from the Actions button. Note, destinations can not be deleted if they are in use by a SmartTag campaign. The Destination can be deleted once the associated SmartTag campaigns are deleted or their link to the Destination is removed.


iOS Universal Links

Apsalar destinations support Apple Universal Links for SmartTags.  If Universal Links is enabled, traditional URL scheme based deep-linking will be served to devices on iOS 8 and below, and Universal Links will be served to devices on iOS 9 and above.  As long as your app supports Universal Links, Apsalar SmartTags will ensure your users are served the right deep-link to optimize user experience.

Supporting Universal Links

Universal Links is a technology that ties your iOS application with a HTTPS web URL.   If this is your team's first time configuring Universal Links, we highly recommend reading our detailed guide here.  In summary, the following things are required for your application to properly support Universal Links:

  1. The application must have Associated Domains service enabled in your Apple developer's dashboard
  2. An apple-app-site-association configuration file hosted on a valid HTTPS web domain
  3. The mentioned web domain must be added as an Associated Domain in the iOS application build
  4. Your application code must correctly handle Universal Links that open the app

Apsalar destinations support either using an Apsalar hosted Universal Link, or your own Universal Link.  If enabled, Universal Links are served to devices on iOS 9 and above.

Using Apsalar Hosted Universal Links

If this option enabled, Apsalar will create a domain and host an apple-app-site-association file for your app (#2).  Using an Apsalar hosted Universal Link is recommended for optimal user experience to engage people into your app.  Users who click on the SmartTag with an Apsalar hosted Universal Link will be taken into the app if installed, or the fallback URL (usually the iTunes app store) if the app is not installed.  If you would like to use an Apsalar to host a domain for Universal Links, the steps are broken down and required as follows:
  1. In your Apple developer account, make sure Associated Domains service is enabled for your app.  Verify your Prefix to be the correct app, and record the ID (your Apple Team ID).  This ID will be used in the next step.

  2. Go to your iOS application in your Apsalar account, and pick a domain prefix.  This prefix populates your Application Universal Links to be [prefix]  This domain must be unique per application.  If your account has multiple iOS apps, a unique domain must be selected for each.  It is recommended to keep this short and identifiable.  For example, Favorite Wallpaper's domain prefix is configured as  Note that cannot be changed once created!  Please reach our support team in case of a change request, but this is not recommended as old Universal Links will become invalid.  

    After providing your domain prefix, also provide your Apple Team ID.  This ID is required and used to populate the apple-app-site-association file Apsalar hosts on the domain.

  3. Enable the Associated Domains capability for your app in Xcode, and add the Apsalar hosted domain in your iOS application's Associated Domains.  Using our example, you will need to add

  4. Make sure your code properly handles Universal Links that open that app, and that the Apsalar start session is recorded there as well.
    - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application continueUserActivity:(NSUserActivity *)userActivity restorationHandler:(void (^)(NSArray * _Nullable))restorationHandler{
       if ([userActivity.activityType isEqualToString: NSUserActivityTypeBrowsingWeb]) {
            NSURL *url = userActivity.webpageURL;
            [Apsalar startSession:@"yourAPIKey" withKey:@"yourSecret" andLaunchURL:url];
            // Put code here to take user to relevant content
       return YES;
  5. Make sure your code properly handles traditional URL scheme deep-linking, and that the Apsalar start session is recorded there as well.
Once the above is completed, your application is now properly configured for using Apsalar hosted Universal Links!

Using Your Own Universal Links

If your app already supports Universal Links as listed through steps #1-4 above, you can choose to place that Universal Link in your iOS destination.  Place your Universal Link by selecting "Other" when configuring a Universal Link in destinations.  Users who click on the SmartTag will be taken into the app if installed, or the web URL in their mobile browser if the app is not installed.

  • An app can be configured to support multiple Universal Links.  Having your own and an Apsalar Universal Link is perfectly fine!
  • Using Apsalar macros in Universal Links is supported

Other things to consider

  • Reporting: similar to Attribution Tracking Tags, reporting on SmartTags is tied to your iOS and Android applications tracked with Apsalar. As a result reporting on web URL clicks is not available at the moment.
  • iOS - Browser Support: for SmartTags to function as intended on iOS devices, the device browser must support Javascript. SmartTags will still redirect users to web URLs if Javascript is not enabled, but other functionality will be limited
  • Android - Device Support for SmartTags to function as intended on Android devices, the device must support Android Intents.
  • Web URL: if a web URL is specified for a destination, you will guarantee that your users will land on a platform-agnostic Fallback URL. If no web URL is specified, for all users on platforms other than iOS or Android one of the iOS or Android Fallback App Store URLs will be chosen to redirect the user.
  • Overriding Destination URL: If you absolutely need to override a destination URL in the SmartTag itself, follow the instructions here
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