The release of iOS 14 constitutes a seismic shift for mobile advertising, and SKAdNetwork is at the heart of it. To help navigate this change, the tracker below shows the percentage of total daily bid requests with support for SKAdNetwork processed by the MOLOCO Cloud platform. Rising numbers indicate greater adoption by mobile marketers of Apple's new, privacy-centric solution to mobile measurement.
Originally released in 2018, SKAdNetwork is an iOS framework that, as Apple explains in its developer documentation, “helps advertisers measure the success of ad campaigns while maintaining user privacy.”
As of the release of iOS 14, SKAdNetwork will receive an update of critical importance for mobile marketers looking to attribute, measure, and optimize their performance marketing campaigns. This is due largely to the arrival of the ATT (AppTrackingTransparency) framework, which is used to manage the opt-in consent process for users willing (or unwilling) to supply their Identifier for Advertisers, or IDFA.
Since replacing its predecessor, the Unique Device Identifier (UDID), in 2012, IDFA has been the de facto method for most advertisers to measure and track behavior at the user level. The granularity afforded by IDFA has been the cornerstone of many modern mobile technologies, including the targeting, optimization, and attribution of mobile advertising.
While IDFA is not being retired, Apple is making its availability to advertisers subject to an explicit user opt-in process at the individual app level. Upon launching an app, users will be presented with a dialogue box asking if they would like to give permission for the app to track them “across apps and websites owned by other companies.”
Based on industry-wide trends towards increased privacy, it’s expected that the majority of users will not opt-in, limiting ad networks and marketers to what can be accomplished with other tools like SKAdNetwork.
SKAdNetwork facilitates communication between mobile apps and the ad networks that drive paid installs between them. It does so in a way that limits the amount of private user information made available to either the apps or the ad network in the process.
When a user clicks on a mobile ad and installs the advertised app, the network supplying that ad passes a collection of data to the App Store including its unique network and campaign IDs. At least 24 hours after the newly installed app is first launched, the App Store notifies the network of the conversion and has the option of supplying a conversion value passed by the newly installed app.
At no point is the newly installed app made aware of which app sent the install, or the network that supplied it. Neither is the ad network given any specific information about the device on which the app was installed, only that an install occurred as a result of a specific campaign.
While the industry at large continues to adapt to the new normal, it’s been noted by many that SKAdNetwork is insufficient for accomplishing many things that were formerly possible with IDFA due to its numerous limitations, including:
With limited user data to draw from, machine learning will be critical to success in the post-IDFA world. Since 2013, we’ve invested heavily in the development of flexible, multi-purpose machine learning models capable of driving value for mobile advertisers.
Those same models, intelligently modified, have already shown promise in being equally effective in a world of SKAdNetwork and contextual signals, supporting our theory that in the absence of user-specific identifiers, mechanical efficiency becomes the most important factor for ROI-positive growth.
To learn more about how MOLOCO can help you navigate the transition to iOS 14, click the button below to get in touch.