Apple’s SKAdNetwork Two Years In

April 18, 2023

Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) is still evolving. Here at FeedMob, we have SKAN updates and two years of experimentation under our belts — and have shared our learnings — but what’s truly interesting is how the industry continues to adapt. While many advertisers are still hesitant to dive into SKAN attribution — choosing to use probabilistic as long as it’s available — the rest of the industry is preparing for a day when probabilistic attribution may be banned.

In the meantime, the combination of SKAN and Apple Search Ads has changed iOS marketing. One of our MMP partners recently reported that “Apple Search Ads (ASA) is no longer an optional line item in their ad spend budget. Brands must bid on their own brand keywords or risk losing visibility in the App Store.”  On the attribution front, mobile measurement partners (MMPs) and other players continue to adjust and advance to the new SKAN reality.

How SKAN has reshaped the mobile attribution ecosystem

Two years in, here’s what we’re seeing across the mobile advertising ecosystem:

MMP Integrations — Early on, MMPs were looking for ways to be more involved with SKAN as Apple moved iOS attribution in-house. Two years on, MMPs have become a key component in SKAN campaign support, by providing conversion ID mapping/decoding, and developing their own proprietary tools to make the most of SKAN data. MMPs have alleviated the need for clients to figure out this complicated data structure in-house and ultimately provide more flexibility to change models and get the most helpful performance data. (Check out our blog post “An Overview of MMP’s iOS 14.5+ Capabilities” to learn more.)

Supply   While certain types of supply are still a challenge for SKAN attribution, many have worked to be SKAN-friendly. Today, some can send ambient SKAN data while live with MMP campaigns, even if it isn’t a SKAN-focused campaign. This leads us to our next point…

Single Source of Truth (SSOT) — Previously, we had to rely on one source or the other to provide attribution. Now we have the opportunity to use data provided by MMPs and SKAN concurrently.  For instance, we use AppsFlyer’s SSOT for max attribution to dedupe data.

FeedMob SKAN Endpoint We’ve been encouraging our clients to launch SKAN campaigns to be prepared for a potential SKAN-only future, even if you opt to go for the rough and ready option. We can help launch with SKAN just to gather data through a simple endpoint to help consolidate different partners for clients, even if they haven’t set up SKAN campaigns with their MMPs yet.

Why updating to SKAN 4.0 is key

SKAN 4.0 has many cool benefits and updating is key to getting the full impact. There are four big changes:

  1. Hierarchical source identifiers allow campaign managers to receive additional tiers of campaign specificity as long as certain privacy thresholds are crossed.
  2. Coarse conversion values (a new lower tier of conditional conversion values that are available prior to the 64 “fine-grained” conversion values), give marketers “less specific attribution information when the privacy thresholds for conversion values are not met, or more detailed attribution information when additional privacy thresholds are met.”
  3. You can track multiple conversions — receiving up to three postbacks — allowing you to track more down-funnel activities and engagement.
  4. SKAdNetwork for web ads allows marketers to look outside apps and attribute to web ads that bring users to App Store product pages from Safari.

At FeedMob, we always encourage our clients to test SKAN and try it out if they haven’t already. The more data the merrier, right? We’re looking forward to another year of experimenting with SKAN for our clients, gathering more best practices to inform our work, and providing better attribution to help clients grow with confidence — no matter which OS they are targeting.

Posted: April 18, 2023

Category: Mobile Insights Blog, Mobile Performance Strategies


Vanessa Simmons Ad Operations Team Lead

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