SKAdNetwork is no stranger to many Apple App Store users. The following ASOWorld research team will show you what SKAdNetwork is, as well as SKAdNetwork as an alternative to the original IDFA tracking method of the App Store, and the details of the new data tracking solution.

What is SKAdNetwork?

The ad network API helps advertisers measure the success of ad campaigns while maintaining user privacy. The API involves three participants:

  • Ad networks that sign ads and receive install notifications when ads result in conversions
  • Source apps that display ads provided by the ad networks
  • Advertised apps that appear in the signed ads

Ad networks must register with Apple, and developers must configure their apps to work with ad networks. For more information about set up, see Registering an Ad Network, and Configuring the Participating Apps.

The following diagram describes the path of an install validation for a StoreKit-rendered ad. App A is the source app that displays an ad. App B is the advertised app that the user installs.

When a user taps an ad, advertisers display an App Store product screen with cryptographically signed parameters that identify the ad campaign. Starting in iOS 14.5, advertisers can choose to display a custom view-through ad or a StoreKit-rendered ad. If the user installs the advertised app, the device stores a pending install validation. If the user opens the app within an attribution time-window, the device sends the install validation postback to the ad network.

The notification that's cryptographically signed by Apple includes the campaign ID but doesn’t include user- or device-specific data. The postback may include a conversion value and the source app’s ID if Apple determines that providing the values meets Apple’s privacy threshold.

Presenting Ads and Receiving Attribution

Each participant has specific responsibilities when using the ad network APIs to present ads and receive attribution.

The ad network’s responsibilities are to:

  • Register and provide its ad network ID to developers. See Registering an Ad Network.
  • Provide signed ads to the source app. See Signing and Providing Ads.
  • Receive install validation postbacks at the URL it established during registration.
  • Verify the postbacks. See Verifying an Install Validation Postback.

The source app’s responsibilities are to:

  • Add the ad network’s ID to its Info.plist. See Configuring the Participating Apps.
  • Display ads that the ad network signs. See Signing and Providing Ads.

The advertised app’s responsibilities are to:

  • Provide app install validation information by calling registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution() or updateConversionValue(_:).
  • Optionally, update a conversion value by calling updateConversionValue(_:).

The device automatically sends the install validation postback after a timer for updating conversion values expires. For more information about ad attribution time windows, see Receiving Ad Attributions.

SKAdNetwork APIs are designed to maintain user privacy. Apps don't need to use App Tracking Transparency before calling SKAdNetwork APIs, and can call these APIs regardless of their tracking authorization status. For more information about privacy, see User Privacy and Data Use.


When you call APIs provided by SKAdNetwork from an App Clip’s code, these APIs have no effect, return empty strings, or return values that indicate unavailability. For more information about App Clips, see Choosing the Right Functionality for Your App Clip.

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