As headlines of widespread data breaches and questionable data policies by large corporations continue to dominate the news, privacy has become a significant concern for modern businesses.
The SKAdNetwork was launched by Apple in March 2018 as an alternative method of measuring campaigns, with privacy being the key priority. It is a framework developed for mobile install attribution. Its primary goal is to help measure app install campaigns’ conversion rates (CPI) without revealing the user identity.
Aim and Importance
Advertisers can use SKAdNetwork to see which of their advertisement campaigns resulted in new downloads of their apps or transactions. Still, it doesn’t reveal anything about which particular ads a user has seen or clicked on.
The aim is to give companies just enough information about their advertisements’ success to encourage them to continue investing in advertising while never disclosing a user’s personal information.
Apple accomplishes this by establishing a new data flow in which much of a user’s information is stored on the phone itself. This forces advertisers to rely on aggregated data about their campaigns’ effectiveness rather than comprehensive user-level data on clicks and ad impressions.
Since individual privacy is covered in this approach, advertisers would not need to ask permission to use this method to calculate ad performance.
How Does SKAdNetwork Work?
The network and the publishing app provide basic information such as campaign ID, network, and publisher details when a user clicks on an ad and opens the store. After this happens, the App Store sends a network notification indicating that the conversion event was successful.
An email is sent out within 24 hours of the initial launch and contains no personally identifiable information or device information about the user.
The App Store handles the bulk of this mechanism, so the advertiser is completely unaware of the publisher and ad.
This way, the ad network gets notified that an install or conversion has occurred without identifying the user.
Challenges and Limitations
Some challenges faced by Apple’s new advertising attribution technology:
- Each network of SKAdNetwork is limited to 100 different campaigns. However, there are usually a variety of sub-campaigns for various geographies, computer models, or creatives.
- Since data delays of 24-48 hours (minimum) will obstruct real-time optimization, this tool would necessitate additional changes for developers and marketers.
- As the event conversion values listed in the network are unsigned, app developers would be unable to verify if the event occurred as anticipated, potentially opening the door to fraud.
- SKAdNetwork does not currently accept deferred or conditional deep linking, view-through attribution, or anything other than the act of downloading as attribution.
Future of MMPs and 3rd Party Measurement
There will be advertisers who refuse to comply with SKAdNetworks’ limitations. Naturally, Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) are likely to continue to provide the infrastructure foundation for both link building and user routing for deep linking re-engagement without SKAdNetwork.
The new challenge for these MMP’s to stand against this method is to demonstrate that these benefits can be maintained and improved while meeting rising privacy standards.