Switching from SKAN 3 to SKAN 4: Insights for iOS advertisers
Sandra Johansson, Product Manager Next Generation Measurement, Adjust, May 10, 2023.
The two most common questions we hear from advertisers and marketers regarding their iOS and SKAdNetwork (SKAN) campaigns in 2023 center around how to switch from SKAN 3 to SKAN 4 and whether it’s possible to use both simultaneously. The quick answers to these questions are, thankfully, fairly straightforward:
- You don’t need to do anything actively to start receiving SKAN 4 postbacks. Provided that the device where the install takes place is running iOS 16.1.1 or above, all that is needed is for the publisher to sign their ads with a SKAN 4 signature as opposed to a SKAN 3 signature.
- Both SKAN 3 and SKAN 4 can be used at the same time. While advertisers and publishers are exploring and testing out SKAN 4, ads are being part signed by SKAN 3 and part signed by SKAN 4, meaning two versions can live side-by-side for the foreseeable future, or until SKAN 4 takes over completely.
This is the straightforward way of looking at it. If you want to get a little more granular, explore the deeper complexities, and think about how to make the most of SKAN 4’s new capabilities, there’s plenty left to tackle.
How to fully leverage SKAN 4 improvements and capabilities
To take advantage of SKAN 4 in its full capacity, the first step is to have a SKAN 4-ready SDK implemented in-app. Contrary to earlier assumptions, this isn’t needed to receive postbacks, but is needed to be able to communicate coarse values and any potential lockWindows. Next, you need to have a SKAN 4-configured conversion value set-up, mapped for all three of its measurement windows. Equipped with the SKAN 4 postbacks you’ll receive in this scenario, you’ll be able to leverage data signals from the conversion values in the postback(s) and transform them into actions.
At the same time, you might still have a SKAN 3 configuration set-up with your MMP, some devices might still be running iOS versions earlier than 16.1 or may not have a SKAN 4-ready SDK, and some of your publishers might still be signing ads with SKAN 3. In all of these cases, you’ll still receive SKAN 3 postbacks and will be able to use that information to optimize your iOS campaigns undisrupted, just as you did pre-SKAN 4.
While industry adoption is slowly marching forward, the above will be the status quo for the coming months at least. That makes now the perfect time to start exploring the full potential of SKAN 4 as both versions can safely run and exist side-by-side. Testing on SKAN 4 won’t impact or cannibalize your SKAN 3 campaigns, meaning there’s nothing to lose.
So, how do you get started as an advertiser?
- Get that SDK update done. Adjust launched the first SKAN 4-ready SDK to the market in November 2022, and you can find the latest version here.
- Set up a SKAN 4 configuration with Adjust. Without this configuration, you won’t be able to make use of SKAN 4’s full potential, such as leveraging coarse conversion values. At this stage, you should also start building your coarse conversion value strategy for all three measurement windows.
- Decide how to utilize the 4-digit source identifier with your ad networks. With 10,000 possible source IDs compared to SKAN 3’s 100 (formerly named) campaign IDs, the possibility for more granular targeting and campaign optimization opens up.
- If you run web campaigns and used to rely on the ATT framework, SKAN 4 now supports web-to-app attribution, something you can start discussing and testing with your ad networks.
Out of all of these steps, the second one is the trickiest to tackle. Don’t be overwhelmed by the complexity of the challenge and instead dive in head-on and take it step-by-step. Adjust is here to help!
Next steps and what else to keep in mind
One of the new features we haven’t even mentioned yet is lockWindow, which is one of SKAN 4’s buzziest concepts. While we do believe that lockWindow will provide more power to tailor a SKAN 4 setup that’s highly specific to your app’s user base and measurement needs, we recommend keeping it simple at the beginning. This means not applying a lockWindow while you’re still figuring out your strategy, approach, and conversion value mapping.
From experience, we know that most exciting new features like this also come with limitations that must be considered. In the case of lockWindow, the trade-off for potentially getting the postback earlier means you might lose highly valuable data insights. Adding to this, the major networks have not yet gotten to the point where they’re providing recommendations on how to best use lockWindow, as it’s not clear how they’re going to adapt their campaign optimization strategies to accommodate this feature. In time, standards and guidelines will develop around the use of lockWindow, but as an industry, we’re not quite there yet.
- Update your SDK.
- Set up your SKAN 4 configuration by expanding your SKAN 3 CV mapping. Don’t dwell or stress, just choose something that makes sense, get started, and iterate from there.
- Regarding how to use source IDs and run web campaigns, discuss and configure with your ad network.
If there is anything preventing you from getting started, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Adjust representative! You can also check out our full suite of iOS/SKAdNetwork solutions here.