Blog iOS 14.5+: attribution in the first 24 hours - what matters

iOS 14.5+: attribution in the first 24 hours - what matters

When working with Apple’s SKAdNetwork, the first 24 hours are the most important — marketers and developers should ensure they are leveraging all attribution data available in this window to its full potential. It’s not just about acquisition; it’s about understanding which first-24-hour in-app behaviors lead to identifying and engaging high-quality users. For many apps, key in-app actions happen all throughout the first week, which is a critical issue when it comes to defining conversion value models that work well.

SKAdNetwork allows marketers to gather information about user behavior within their app with conversion values — providing 6-bits of post-install numbers (a conversion value between 0 and 63). Once an initial 24-hour window expires without an update to the conversion value, a second 24-hour timer for attribution starts counting down. Within this 24 hour window, the SKAdNetwork randomly returns the attribution data - obfuscating the time of install so that in-app event triggers, including log-ins, purchases, etc. cannot be linked to individual users.

How you set up your conversion value strategy is the key to success on SKAdNetwork. Even if you’re not able to offer users targeted experiences based on their data, it’s still vital you’re capturing a large volume so you’ve got the data needed to work with and can continue to grow your installs. Once you’re confident about user volume, the next step is ensuring you are acquiring good quality users with high Life Time Value (LTV).

Tracking as much behavioral engagement as possible

To create the best possible conversion value strategy we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Decide whether you want to focus on engagement or revenue
  • If looking at revenue, identify the clusters of revenue ranges that exist for current users
  • When focussing on engagement, explore the engagement behaviors of these users in the first 24 hours (independent from the source they were acquired from). If you can easily identify differences it is worth considering adding engagement-specific tracking into the conversion value coding. If not, ask yourself what’s missing and what would provide the data points needed
  • Launch and observe the distribution of triggered conversion values - in the best-case scenario, you’ll see clear peaks and troughs on the performance as opposed to a homogenous picture.

Identifying whales and linking them to specific sources is going to become much harder, which is why building a first-24-hours focused strategy to identify users that will perform well is what you always want to optimize towards.

Designing a unique and specific algorithm that packs in as much information as possible is generally the most effective way to gather data, but can also come with a few pitfalls to avoid. Robust models where certain key events - or even key event ranges that do not occur on a rolling 24-hour basis (or when the event is triggered more than 24 hours after install) - mean that the conversion value will no longer be updated, regardless of how clever the algorithm may be. So, make sure you’re basing your strategy on what you track to behavioral engagement that can be effectively measured in the first 24 hours.

Get users engaged in the first 24 hours

The data you receive from SKAdNetwork comes exclusively from in-app actions completed in the first 24 hours, meaning that you need to get as many users as possible engaged in this time window. You can try using a high-impact push notification strategy for reactivation, creating a more aggressive push-to-signup UX, or focusing on catching different data points that help to separate your user segments. These often include gamified questionnaires, surveys or free trials.

The strategy you implement here needs to be tested and validated to avoid negative effects on overall in-app conversion rates, and the specific approach you take will depend heavily on your app’s vertical - but the principles are the same. Every new data point that can be gathered will be helpful in identifying engagement clusters that provide a higher long-term LTV in the first 24 hours, which will then enable you to build the right conversion value configuration. It will also help to create more advanced prediction models in the future.

Unpacking the user behaviors that occur within the first 24 hours - often those you wouldn’t have normally monitored - is the key to building conversion values that can accurately predict and assess the quality of the users you’re acquiring. This will allow you to gain an understanding of the users that perform well long-term so that you can continue to target and acquire them.

Success on the SKaDNetwork is determined by how well marketers work with the data they receive in the first 24 hours. Engaging high volumes of users, as much as possible, within this window is the key to obtaining the data points that will be integral to clustering and segmenting those that bring the most LTV.

To learn more about iOS 14.5+ and what we’re doing to help our clients succeed on SKAdNetwork, you can take a look at our SKAdNetwork solutions here.

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