Deferred deep linking

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Deferred deep linking is one aspect of mobile deep linking. It describes the principle of deep linking into an app that is not yet installed. In this case, deep linking will be "deferred" until the application will be installed by the user. This implies that clicking (or otherwise invoking) the deep link causes:

  1. An app store to open (Google Play/iOS or Windows App Store depending on the user's device) to enable the user to install the app
  2. Once the app is installed, the link is invoked with its original URL and parameters so that the newly installed app can handle the invocation.

A common use case is to drive installs; linking to functionality in a not-yet-installed app provides the user with an incentive to install it.

Deferred deep linking allows mobile developers and mobile marketers to deliver a seamlessly and automated user experience, whether the app was previously installed or not, improving conversion rates and user retention.

Platform-provided support[edit]

While there is currently no industry standard for deferred deep linking, various platform providers offer differing levels of support:

  • Apple iOS: No support.
  • Android support on the Google Play store: Google gives app developers the option of passing the original deep link through the Google Play App Store using the Intent: "The deep link should take users directly to the content, without any prompts, interstitial pages, or logins. Make sure that users can see the app content even if they never previously opened the application.” [1]
  • Android support on non-Google app stores: No support. This is the majority of Android app installations, since Google Play makes up less than 1/4 of the volume of Android apps downloaded.[2]
  • Installs driven by Facebook ads (iOS and Android): Developers can bring users to the content inside the installed app with using Facebook's Deep Linking for Mobile Install Ads technology: "When a person taps on a mobile app install ad on Facebook, the developer can choose to send them to a specific place in their app after its downloaded, such as a product page rather than the homepage."[3]

Alternatives to Platform-provided support[edit]

For the platforms where there is no real support (the majority), the only option is a "roll-your-own" approach. The general approach is to provide a mechanism where the URL and its parameters can be passed "around" the app store; i.e. received from the source (linking) application (the "click"), stored, and then passed to the destination (linked-to) application once it is installed and launched.[4]

The major technical challenge to solve in this approach is identifying which click caused which install so that the correct URL and parameters can be passed to newly-installed app. Tying clicks to installs is a family of technologies known as Attribution.


  1. ^ "Enabling Deep Links for App Content | Android Developers". Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  2. ^ "Android Surpasses iOS In Revenue, If China's Android App Stores Are Combined". 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  3. ^ "Deep linking for mobile app install ads". Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  4. ^ St.Derrick. "How to make deferred deep linking". Retrieved 2016-08-15.