Blog SKAdNetwork 4.0 explained and Adjust’s p...

SKAdNetwork 4.0 explained and Adjust’s privacy vision for 2022 and beyond

In this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced updates to its SKAdNetwork (SKAN) API which are aimed at allowing advertisers and networks to better measure app and web ad performance while simultaneously preserving user privacy. Continuing our coverage of WWDC 2022, we’re here to explain the implications of these updates for app marketers, and share how Adjust is committed to investing in next-generation solutions that embrace and align with the privacy-centric evolution of the market.

SKAdNetwork API updates to know

In favor of a privacy approach to measuring ads, Apple has added four new features in SKAdNetwork 4.0: Multiple conversions, Hierarchical conversion values, Hierarchical source identifiers, and SKAdNetwork attributions for web. While we’re waiting for more specific information on the exact way that these changes will work, we’re excited to announce some positive developments for the mobile app marketing world. Here’s what we know so far. The winning postback for advertisers will include the following information:

Hierarchical source identifiers

Formerly known as the campaign ID field, the Hierarchal source ID allows advertisers to attribute installs to campaigns, as well as additional attribution information. Advertisers can create this four-digit value based on their goals, e.g., campaign values, ad placement, or type of ad creative.

This field always has at least two digits in the postback but up to four digits can be included, depending on the number of installs and which level of privacy has been met by the campaign. This grants advertisers more flexibility in their mobile app campaigns and also provides them with additional attribution insights when privacy thresholds have been met. Most importantly, user privacy is preserved across apps.

Hierarchical conversion values

A hierarchical conversion value will either be a coarse or fine-grained value. These are conditional and only appear once a sufficient number of installations have occurred.

  • Coarse-grained value: When a campaign has a low number of app installations, this value only sends advertisers limited performance information.
  • Fine-grained value: Advertisers will only receive more detailed attribution information when additional privacy thresholds are met. User privacy will still be preserved. Note that fine-grained values will grant access to all 64 possible values.

Bottom line, hierarchical conversion values will provide advertisers with more information about conversions from smaller campaigns.

Multiple conversions

With this feature, multiple attribution windows can be set for different conversion values, making it easier to evaluate in-app behavior and calculate return on ad spend. Up to three postbacks can be received, based on a specific conversion window: 0-2 days, 3-7 days, and 8-35 days and each of these windows will be able to include multiple engagements.

This will allow advertisers to better determine user engagement over time within the advertised app, which could prove extremely helpful to app businesses that benefit from tracking events later in the user journey. Additionally, marketers for verticals in which critical conversion events typically occur within the first seven days, such as fintech or ecommerce, will now be able to better understand the quality of users after the initial 24 hours post install.

The following are conditional: SourceAppID, SourceID, and coarse-grained conversion values. They will only be included in the second and third postbacks and will only be deployed when privacy thresholds have been met.

SKAdNetwork attributions for web

SKAdNetwork 4.0 will allow advertisers to attribute web-based ads that direct to the advertised app’s product page on the App Store. Using Private Click Measurement, advertisers can attribute both web advertising and in-app advertising. To learn more about Private Click Measurement, click here.

User permission to copy and paste between apps

In 2020, the iOS 14 release introduced a banner that alerts users when an app is pasting from the clipboard so users know when an app is reading the content on the clipboard without their consent. Now, iOS 16 takes an additional step toward user privacy by asking the user for permission to copy and paste between apps. This aim is to prevent apps from accessing sensitive data on a user’s clipboard without their explicit consent.

Our vision on privacy and new solutions

In the previous update, iOS 15, Apple provided iCloud+ users with the option to turn on Private Relay, designed to prevent the tracking of iOS users on Safari. Although it was speculated that Private Relay would be turned on by default as part of the iOS 16 rollout, Apple has yet to announce such an update. However, changes like this are central to the direction that the mobile marketing and advertising ecosystem is heading and we believe plenty more are likely on the way.

And as the industry continues to grow, evolve, and become more privacy-centric, measurement remains essential to marketers. The Adjust team is continuing to work with Apple and our partners to provide next-generation solutions that focus less on individual data points as we move toward optimizing for aggregated data.

Our latest privacy-oriented solutions

Just last month, we launched our new analytics solution Datascape, where marketers are empowered to make smart, fast decisions by viewing and analyzing all of their data in one place.

We’ve also been empowering growth on iOS 14.5 for clients using our Conversion Value Manager, which allows app businesses of different verticals and business/monetization models to create schemas that best utilize the available conversion values for individual needs.

Stay tuned for next-generation predictive analytics

Moving forward, one of the key areas we’re focusing on is predictive analytics, which has become significantly more complex on iOS when working with SKAdNetwork data. As the data currently received is anonymized and based on activity from only the first 24-hours post-install (although the updates to postback windows on SKAdNetwork 4.0 could change this), important events that we were previously able to identify later in the customer journey are no longer visible. This is why we're leveraging ATT opted-in data together with aggregated data points from SKAdNetwork to drive our machine learning solution, which will analyze trends and help predict a user's future behavior or likelihood of proving ROI. The combination of these two data types is key to unlocking and predicting insights for iOS campaigns — beginning with lifetime value. For more information, check out the session Apple hosted reminding developers about ATT best practices and use cases or our latest ebook on mastering SKAN 4, created in partnership with TikTok.

Our clients can depend on Adjust’s solutions to provide the smart analytics essential to tracking campaign performance and proving ROI while adhering to the latest privacy regulations. In this fast-paced industry, we know it’s vital to remain agile while taking privacy updates in stride. In the last ten years, we’ve tackled numerous changes, and the iOS 16 rollout is simply the next update we’ll use to raise the bar for ourselves as leaders in the mobile measurement industry.

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