Blog AdAttributionKit vs. SKAdNetwork: Everyt...

AdAttributionKit vs. SKAdNetwork: Everything you need to know

Revealed as part of WWDC24, Apple appears to have bid farewell to a potential SKAdNetwork (SKAN) 5 in favor of its new AdAttributionKit. Initially released with iOS 17.4 in March, AdAttributionKit was a SKAN equivalent for third-party app stores, which Apple was legally required to allow in the EU following the enforcement of the Digital Markets Act. Now, critically, AdAttributionKit is available for both the App Store and alternative stores, and is positioned as the future of Apple's privacy-preserving framework. Details on best practices and adoption were presented in the Meet AdAttributionKit session on June 11.

We already covered the AdAttributionKit basics in our WWDC24 wrap-up, but today we’re digging a bit deeper into what we know so far about AdAttributionKit, to provide you with all necessary information and to address any and all concerns. Let’s take a look at how it differs from SKAN, what’s new, the big reveals on re-engagement and deep linking, and how Adjust is supporting these changes.

AdAttributionKit vs. SKAdNetwork: what’s the difference and how does it work?

First and foremost, there’s very little functional difference between AdAttributionKit and SKAN 4—at this stage. There are still three postbacks from three measurement windows, fine and coarse conversion values, crowd anonymity, lockWindow, random delays, and everything else from SKAN 4 that the industry has been familiarizing itself with since its release. Apple itself has stated that AdAttributionKit “builds on the functionality of SKAdNetwork”.

Along with a few minor differences in naming conventions (SKAN 4’s app ID vs. AttributionKit’s Advertised item ID, etc.), the main things to keep in mind for now are:

  1. Alternative app store coverage: AdAttributionKit was originally released for alternative app stores only, now it’s been expanded to include the App Store. At this stage, you can use one or the other, or both, with interoperability—how the two APIs interact—clearly outlined by Apple.
  2. Custom creative support: There is new functionality enabling differentiation in creative types, with three different methods for displaying ads: Custom click ads, view-through ads (including video), and banner + full screen listing style overlays (SKOverlay and SKStoreProductViewController) .
  3. Testing: The complexities and nature of SKAN have historically made it difficult to run tests. With AdAttributionKit, there’s a new feature called ‘developer mode’ which aims to “improve the ease of testability”. In this mode, time randomization is removed from the system and conversion windows are shortened, meaning testing of conversion value updates can take place in all three windows in a “test-friendly timeframe”. It also speeds up postback transmission.
  4. Re-engagement (at last!): AdAttributionKit now enables re-engagement - more on this below.
  5. Deep linking: Directly related to the re–engagement feature, universal links are leveraged to direct users that already have an advertised app installed to specific screens in-app.

Considering that AdAttributionKit works more or less exactly how SKAN works, it should not change marketers’ current workflows or impede in any way on the ability to attribute and measure campaigns on iOS. Think of it more as an updated SKAN with some new functionalities.

Re-engagement and deep linking in AdAttributionKit

Re-engagement was famously teased at WWDC23 as part of SKAN 5 previews, and was definitely its most anticipated feature. With SKAN 5 now out of the picture, the good news is that AdAttributionKit has picked this straight back up.

Detailed in the Meet AdAttributionKit session, ad networks can mark ads to be considered for re-engagement (if the app is already installed) by setting ‘eligible-for-re-engagement’ to ‘true’ in the impression JSON.

If a user with the advertised app already installed clicks on the ad marked for re-engagement, a universal link will be used to open the app and send them to the in-app location defined in that link. If the app is not installed, the ad will take the user to the relevant app store to download.

Re-engagement postbacks will have a conversionType key included in them, with ‘re-engagement’ outlined. Note that they can only have the click ad interaction type, as view-through re-engagement is not supported by AdAttributionKit. Other important points include that the first call to update the conversion value must take place within 48-hours of the event, and that conversion values from re-engagements can be updated separately from installation postbacks.

AdAttributionKit, Adjust, and the future of measurement on iOS

Adjust remains steadfast in its commitment to solving for the developing requirements of privacy-centric frameworks like SKAN and AdAttributionKit. Our next-generation set of tools makes creating conversion values—for both frameworks—straightforward, and enable aggregated analysis of the anonymized data received, empowering fast insights and strategic, scalable campaign optimization on iOS.

Given the interoperability of SKAN and AdAttributionKit, we see no current concerns for clients, and our solutions are able to support both frameworks. We will continue working closely with Apple to prepare for any potential changes in future.

For more information on how AdAttributionKit works, what to expect moving forward, the future of SKAN, and more, reach out to your Adjust contact person or keep a close eye on our blog for the latest updates.

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