What is a self-attributing network (SAN)

Glosarium What is a self-attributing network (SAN)

Definition of self-attributing network

A self-attributing network (SAN) is an ad network that advertises on its own platform. SANs act as both publishers and networks, and can therefore measure conversions internally. This conversion information is confirmed with attribution partners like Adjust using an application program interface (API).

Standard ad networks vs. SANs

Standard ad networks send attribution partners like Adjust data about each click and impression, including the relevant advertising ID. SANs, on the other hand, do not proactively share this data. Instead, they wait for the attribution partner to send the advertising ID (which they obtain via a software development kit (SDK) embedded in the client’s app).

The SAN then confirms whether they have engagements in their own records that match the same advertising ID. Finally, the attribution partner checks whether this was the last touchpoint before conversion.

Attribution flow for SANs

The traditional attribution flow for self-attributing networks is simple.

  1. A user sees your app’s ad, clicks through, and downloads the app from the app store.
  2. The SAN collects that user’s advertising ID and stores it on their server.
  3. The user opens your app for the first time, which Adjust registers as an install.
  4. The Adjust SDK is initialized, which triggers the collection of the user’s advertising ID.
  5. Adjust then sends that advertising ID to the SAN using an API to check whether the SAN has recorded activity matching that ID.
  6. The SAN confirms they have relevant touchpoints matching that user’s advertising ID, and provides this information to Adjust.
  7. Adjust assess* the clicks that the SAN sent to confirm whether this was the last touchpoint, and therefore an install.
  8. Adjust registers an attribution for the SAN.

*It’s important to note that during this point in the attribution process, even if the SAN has already attributed the install to themselves according to the attribution window they have set, Adjust assesses the engagements from all other networks to accurately identify whether the install should be attributed to this network. This is a good example of why having an unbiased attribution provider like Adjust is crucial to running your marketing campaigns!

Attribution flow for SANs

Of course, this traditional flow is only possible now for iOS opted-in and non-iOS devices. For iOS installs that do not have the user’s opt-in to share their identifier for advertisers (IDFA), marketers will need to use aggregated SKAdNetwork (SKAN) data to measure technical and campaign performance.

Adjust and SANs

Adjust has seamlessly integrated with top SANs like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Google Ads, App Search Ads, Twitter, Snapchat, and more. SANs are easy to set up in the Adjust dashboard. These partnerships help Adjust give marketers a thorough view of multitouch customer journey attribution data.

Learn more about how Adjust can help you seamlessly measure your campaign performance with mobile attribution.

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