Blog SKAdNetwork 4.0 has launched: Here’s eve...

SKAdNetwork 4.0 has launched: Here’s everything you need to know

As Apple promised at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, its much anticipated SKAdNetwork 4.0 (SKAN 4) was officially released for iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 this week. SKAN 4 comes with a swathe of new features and options for ad networks and app developers. While these updates represent great opportunity, as with all SKAN version updates, they also bring new complexity.

Success on iOS comes down to mastering your SKAN and user acquisition strategy. This is why we’ve built solutions to cover multiple postbacks, customize fine- and coarse-grain conversion value logic, and the ability to measure hierarchical source identifiers. With Adjust Conversion Hub and Datascape, we’ve got SKAN 4 covered.

Let’s jump into what’s changed, what you can expect, and what it means for you.

What does SKAN 4.0 mean for my iOS strategy?

First and foremost, industry-wide adoption will take time, which is why we recommend focusing your strategy on determining how you can best leverage the new capabilities, which we get into below.

1. Increased insights with conversion value graining:

In addition to mapping events and revenue to conversion values, there is now the added option to assign conversion values to a grain of low, medium, or high.

You can now:

  • Map your conversion values to the new coarse-graining in addition to the traditional fine-graining (6-bit or 63-CV mode offered by Adjust).
  • Set the coarse-graining of the conversion value to: Low, medium, or high.
  • Receive coarse values in all three postbacks, depending on whether privacy threshold requirements are met.

What this means for you:

  • Begin to think through how you can use coarse values for product analytics. We think about them as an additional chance to learn more about the quality of your users. Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to learn three more signals than the dreaded “null”. While in some privacy tiers you still may not receive fine or coarse values, you now have the opportunity to gain a high level understanding of more of your users and their quality. We recommend using coarse values to track specific events, revenue, or retention that are closely tied to the metrics that drive your app’s LTV.
  • Leverage the ability with your fine conversion values to associate each value with distinct activities, given that fine values can now decrease in addition to increasing.

2. Time frames and the new postback windows:

As part of what Apple calls ‘multiple conversions,’ the new postback windows (Postback 2 and Postback 3) are aimed at helping advertisers and developers to better understand how often someone who installed an app from a campaign engages with that app over time. In short, we went from having one 24-hour postback window to three postback windows with coverage of up to 35 days.

  • You now get three, yes three, postbacks: 0-2, 3-7, and 8-35 days, all of which can be shortened and customized via the lockWindow.
  • The delay on sending the postback can be anywhere from 24-144 hours (24-48 hours for Postback 1).
  • For the first postback, you can receive either a fine grain or coarse grain conversion value.
  • For the second and third postbacks, you’ll only be able to receive coarse values, which will be sent at between 24-144 hours.

What this means for you:

  • Reduction in the dreaded CV null: Now with coarse and fine values, there’s a higher chance of receiving more information in the postback, potentially even for campaigns of lower volume. Since postbacks 2 and 3 will not be linked, we recommend using the coarse-values to focus on specific events and retention.

3. Finalize conversion values and trigger postbacks with lockWindow

You can now “lock and finalize” a conversion value at any point in a postback window, instead of continuing to have it be updated throughout the full time period available. For example, Postback 1 can have the lockWindow applied at any point within the first 0-2 days.

In the example below provided by Apple, we can see that a conversion is registered at the end of the first 48-hour window, and that a postback is sent. Following this, at around day 5, the developer has applied the lock, meaning the remainder of the 3-7 day window is closed, and they will receive the postback containing the latest conversion value up to when they applied the lock.

What this means for you:

  • Once locked and finalized, the random timer starts at that point within the given postback window, meaning you reduce the waiting time for the postback.
  • You can draw insights from your conversion values faster.
  • Standardize how you measure LTV by applying your lockable window at times relevant to key events within the user journey.

4. A bit more: Privacy threshold, increased granularity for ad networks, and web-to-app attribution

What you need to know about privacy threshold: Up until SKAN 4.0, if a user didn’t meet the privacy threshold, you would receive a null postback. SKAN 4.0 brings some optimistic-complexity to this space by expanding the privacy threshold out into four tiers of crowd anonymity (0, 1, 2, and 3), to which Apple assigns each install. Based on the tier that an install is assigned to, one or more of the fields available in a full postback may be dropped: Fine-grain conversion value, coarse-grain conversion value, source ID, and source app ID.

This is how Apple visualizes these new tiers, with Tier 3 representing a full payload:

What this means for you: In the best case scenario, SKAN 4.0 will return a full payload in the first postback, with a fine-grained conversion value and lots of data for you to work with. Null postbacks will also decrease, meaning you have more available data to draw conclusions from and use to optimize your campaigns.

What you need to know about source identifier and increased granularity for ad networks: Now named source identifier, SKAN can provide up to four digits (increased from two) for campaign IDs, extending the potential dimension reporting for ad networks from a digit between 0-99 to up to 10,000.

As with all postback data, the granularity received is contingent upon Apple’s privacy threshold conditions. If they’re met, ad networks will receive all four digits. If they’re not, this number can be throttled back to three, and to a minimum of two.

What this means for you: Since the first two digits will always be received, prioritize them as usual and leverage the second two for more granular dimensions . For example, as visualized by Apple below, you could add digits to the identifier representing location and placement.

What you need to know about web-to-app attribution: As predicted, web-to-app attribution on SKAN 4.0 is only available for Safari but as over 90% of iOS users use Safari as their mobile browser, coverage is high.

What this means for you: It’s now possible to attribute web advertising that directs to App Store product pages, meaning if you have inventory across app and web, you can now effectively execute cross-channel attribution. This will be super relevant for specific app categories and in web-heavy markets or verticals.

Keep driving iOS success with Adjust

From app developers to ad networks and users, SKAN 4.0 once again represents a significant shift in iOS measurement, coming with vast opportunities for the industry at large. As we continue to adapt and develop next generation solutions—like Conversion Hub—that empower growth on iOS, it’s the perfect time to plan ahead and get ready to execute and stay ahead of the curve. We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments and adoption to ensure we offer our clients the solutions they need to succeed on SKAN and iOS. We’ll also be taking deep dives into the SKAN changes and updates over the coming weeks, to stay tuned.

For more information you can reach out to your Adjust contact person or get in touch via the iOS resource center.

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