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Comprehensive Handbook on SKAdNetwork 4.0: Everything You Need to Know

Are you aiming to maximize the potential of mobile performance advertising? If that’s the case, then the recent release of Apple’s SKAdNetwork 4.0 might be relevant to you. The industry was taken by surprise as it arrived earlier than expected last year in October 2022.

In this article, we will provide an extensive exploration of SKAdNetwork 4.0, the latest iteration of this platform. Our discussion will cover an overview of SKAdNetwork, its advantages, prominent features, effective utilization, and more. Furthermore, we also discuss the platform’s integration with Adjust, strategies for implementation, best practices for leveraging its capabilities, and additional insights.

Getting to the Basics: Understanding Mobile Attribution and its Mechanism

Let’s Begin with the Fundamentals: Mobile Attribution and In-App Events.

Mobile attribution is the process of tracking user journeys and identifying which marketing campaigns, partners, and channels led to an app’s user growth and in-app purchases. It uses technologies such as fingerprinting, SDKs, and device IDs to track users across different devices and attribute conversions to the correct source. 

Mobile attribution is an essential tool for brands, app owners, and businesses to make data-driven decisions and improve their mobile marketing campaigns.

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In-App Events are essential for tracking user behavior, measuring campaign impact, and optimizing product decisions and marketing investments. By capturing post-install user interactions, such as buttons clicked, purchases made, and levels completed – these events can be analyzed and used to inform product decisions and optimize marketing investments. 

These events are reported to MMPs (Mobile Measurement Partners) via SDK (Software Development Kit) or server-to-server API (Application Program Interface) and provide more granular measurement than downloads or install rates. They also help associate a value to in-app purchases and identify opportunities for optimizing the user experience to improve retention rates. 

With this data, developers & marketers can build better-performing apps that deliver greater value through better engagement and monetization opportunities.

A Postback also known as “callback” contains data that is sent from attribution providers to media sources. There are two types of postbacks:

Install postback: Informs the winning media source that it was attributed for an install (advertisers can also decide to send a postback to partners that did not win the attribution, albeit with limited data compared to the winner).

In-app event postback: Informs the media source of a post-install in-app action as it happens. 

It’s also important to note that the postback mechanism in Apple’s SKAdnetwork is completely different and presents a few challenges for advertisers that we’ll cover further down.

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Unpacking SKAdNetwork

SkAdNetwork stands for “Secure Key Ad Network” is an Apple-created framework that allows advertisers to measure ad campaign effectiveness while preserving user privacy. It uses a randomized mechanism to report conversion events to advertisers. This enables marketers to get aggregated attribution on mobile app marketing campaigns.

What is SkAdNetwork? 

A framework for mobile app advertising that allows advertisers to measure ad campaign effectiveness while preserving user privacy.

How does it work? 

SkAdNetwork uses a randomized mechanism to report conversion events to advertisers. They can measure performance without collecting personally identifiable user information (PII). This means that advertisers can get a sense of how many people installed their app as a result of a particular ad campaign, but they can’t identify individual users. 

Why is it important? 

By using SkAdNetwork, advertisers can measure the effectiveness of their campaigns without compromising user privacy. Considering Apple’s stricter privacy guidelines, which require marketers to obtain permission from users to track them across apps and websites, this is particularly important.

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What are the new capabilities of SKAdNetwork 4.0?

SKAdNetwork 4.0 introduces a number of new features, including the following:

Hierarchical source identifiers: This allows advertisers to measure more parameters, such as ad placement and ad creatives, for campaigns that meet the privacy threshold.

SKAdNetwork 4.0 assigns campaigns to one of three tiers based on their conversion volume. This allows advertisers to receive more data for campaigns that are generating more installs.

Coarse-grained conversion values: Advertisers can now access coarse-grained conversion data, even for campaigns that do not meet the privacy threshold. This is in addition to the fine-grained conversion data that was previously available.

Coarse-grained conversion values are less granular than fine-grained conversion values, but they are available for all campaigns, regardless of their conversion volume. This is helpful for advertisers who want to measure the performance of smaller campaigns.

Multiple conversions: Advertisers can now receive up to three postbacks per user, each based on a different conversion window.

SKAdNetwork 4.0 sends up to three postbacks per user, each based on a different conversion window. This allows advertisers to track user engagement over time.

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lockWindow: App developers and marketers can now lock a conversion value at any point in a postback window to receive a quicker postback.

The lockWindow feature allows app developers and marketers to receive a quicker postback by locking the conversion value at any point in a postback window. This is helpful for advertisers who need to make decisions based on real-time data.

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How SKAdNetwork 4.0 Can Improve Your App Campaigns

More data for campaigns that meet the privacy threshold: SKAdNetwork 4.0 provides advertisers with more data for campaigns that meet the privacy threshold. This includes information such as ad placement and ad creative, which can help advertisers to optimize their campaigns.

Coarse-grained conversion data for all campaigns: SKAdNetwork 4.0 also provides advertisers with coarse-grained conversion data for all campaigns, even those that do not meet the privacy threshold. This data can be used to track user engagement and measure the effectiveness of campaigns.

Up to three postbacks per user: SKAdNetwork 4.0 sends up to three postbacks per user, each based on a different conversion window. This allows advertisers to track user engagement over time and identify users who are most likely to convert.

The ability to lock a conversion value at any point in a postback window to receive a quicker postback: SKAdNetwork 4.0 allows advertisers to lock a conversion value at any point in a postback window. This can be helpful for advertisers who need to make decisions based on real-time data.

SKAdNetwork 4.0 provides advertisers with more data and flexibility to measure the performance of their app campaigns. This can help advertisers to optimize their campaigns and improve their results.

Mostafa Daoud

Mostafa Daoud

Mostafa Daoud is the Interim Head of Content at e-CENS.

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