What is AdAttributionKit?

Glossary What is AdAttributionKit?

AdAttributionKit is Apple’s latest privacy-centric API and framework for measurement and attribution on iOS. It was first introduced in March 2024 as a SKAdNetwork (SKAN) equivalent for advertising and measurement via third-party app stores on iOS. AdAttributionKit is now available for the “presenting, processing, and registering” of postbacks from in-app ads in alternative app marketplaces and the Apple App Store. Note that the introduction of alternative app stores on iOS was rolled out by Apple as a compliance measure regarding the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2024 (WWDC24), AdAttributionKit was presented in lieu of the highly anticipated SKAN 5, and was positioned as the future of privacy-preserving, post-IDFA attribution and measurement on iOS. AdAttributionKit is supported from iOS 17.4 onward, is fully compatible and interoperable with SKAN, and its capabilities are extremely similar to SKAN 4. Starting with iOS 18, some new features and functionalities will be released.

How does AdAttributionKit work?

AdAttributionKit is a framework for measuring and attributing installs and engagements from ads on iOS. Its goal is to help advertisers determine the success of their campaigns while maintaining user privacy. It is an API that functions via the working collaboration of three key stakeholders in the mobile advertising process: ad networks (sign ads and receive install validation postbacks), app developers/publishers (display ads from the ad networks), and app advertisers (update conversion values when ad engagements are registered).

AdAttributionKit’s features are very similar to SKAN 4. This means app advertisers can expect to continue with the following:

  • Three measurement windows and three corresponding postbacks: 0-48 hours, 2-7 days, 8-35 days. These postbacks can contain a publisher ID (called source ID on SKAN 4) and a source identifier (campaign information from the ad network) along with a conversion value, and newly, an interaction type (click or view). What advertisers receive is dependent upon the crowd anonymity achieved by the campaign.
  • Fine and coarse conversion values: In the first postback, if the crowd anonymity tier is reached, it’s possible to receive a fine conversion value (mapped across 0-63 values and technically the same as SKAN 3’s conversion values), or a coarse conversion value (mapped to low, medium, or high). In the second and third postback, it’s only possible to receive a coarse value.
  • Crowd anonymity tiers: Four potential tiers based on campaign volume, the higher the volume, the higher the tier, the higher the tier, the more information will be contained in the postback.
  • lockWindow: Advertisers can end the length of a conversion window and request to trigger the postback timer earlier by applying a “lock”.

One of the most anticipated features of SKAN 5 was re-engagement, which was formerly not possible working with SKAN. In excellent news for advertisers, one of AdAttributionKit’s defining iOS 18 features is the much awaited re-engagement. AdAttributionKit allows advertisers to mark an ad to be considered for re-engagement if their app is already installed on the device of the user viewing the ad. This works by setting ‘eligible-for-re-engagement’ to ‘true’ in the impression JSON.

If an existing app user clicks on an ad marked for re-engagement, they will be directed to the app via a universal link, which brings them to the location defined in that link. This effectively means that direct deep linking for existing users is also possible with AdAttributionKit.

What’s the difference between AdAttributionKit and SKAdNetwork?

There’s currently very little functional difference between AdAttributionKit and SKAN 4. As we detailed above, SKAN 4’s features are maintained in AdAttributionKit, and Apple stated that AdAttributionKit “builds on the functionality” of SKAN. The system of three postbacks remains the same, crowd anonymity is unchanged, and the process of building and mapping conversion values to gain insights and optimize campaigns continues.

There are, however, a few differences differences to keep in mind.

  1. Alternative app stores: This is the biggest difference. AdAttributionKit was originally released as the SKAN alternative for third-party stores. SKAN only works with the App Store, and AdAttributionKit works for both. In this sense, AdAttributionKit will likely eventually render SKAN obsolete.
  2. Re-engagement: It’s now possible to attribute engagements from existing users.
  3. Deep linking: When an ad is marked for re-engagement, an existing user can be directed to an in-app location via a universal link.
  4. Testing: AdAttributionKit introduces a range of new testing options as part of its developer mode. It’s possible to run tests with shorter conversion windows, no time randomization, and faster postback transmission.
  5. Custom creatives: Different creative types and methods for displaying ads are available

As with SKAN and all updates to Apple and iOS measurement since App Tracking Transparency (ATT), Adjust is at the forefront of developments and changes. We work closely with Apple to ensure we have the solutions and tools app advertisers need to continue running successful, scalable campaigns on iOS. To learn how we can help you grow your app, guide you in working with AdAttributionKit and SKAN, and much more, request a demo today.

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