Table of Contents


How will measurement and attribution be affected after the iOS 14 updated privacy policy?



Understanding the impact of your mobile advertising in iOS14 will become less clear as fewer new users (along with any revenue generated) can be traced back to an advertising touchpoint at a user-level.

Campaign structure limitations

SKAdNetwork is designed to limit tracking of data to the campaign-level. So say goodbye to more granular reporting and insights. While there is much less user-level data, there is however Publisher ID included – giving marketers more transparency which individual publishers within an ad network delivers performance).

Apple is limiting advertisers to 100 campaigns per ad network. 100 campaigns may sound a lot, but these have to include all targeting variations. Apple is limiting it to 100 so advertisers cannot make it easier to track individual users by making each campaign much tighter in its targeting.

Some ad networks and advertising platforms are limiting the number of campaigns further. This will be discussed further in section 5: How are the major channels reacting?

View-through vs. click-through

Because SKAdNetwork was designed to link a click to a conversion, it was expected that there would be no view-through attribution where there is no consent.

However, an Apple update (28th Jan) suggested that view-through attribution will be possible with SKAdNetwork for video, audio and interactive advertising. For an impression to be considered ‘viewed’ and be able to claim credit for a conversion, the advert will have to be on screen for a minimum of three seconds.

Additionally, SKAdNetwork will only record up to 15 viewed ad impressions per source app, before it will start forgetting the oldest impression. So if your ad was the 1st impression and the user saw 10 more ads in an app before converting, SKAdNetwork would attribute that conversion to the impression. But, if the person saw, say, 20 impressions after your ad was served, then any later conversion would not be attributed. We are not yet sure how Apple will track and enforce this.

A view-through ad impression must deliver a conversion within 24 hours for it to be attributable.

Attribution will go to the most recent impression with the highest strength. So a clicked ad will take precedence over a viewed ad, even if the viewed ad was served later, but if there are only multiple views, then the last view will take the credit.

Deterministic vs. Probabilistic

Probabilistic methods of attribution in the absence of an IDFA will be out, too, in favour of a deterministic click. Tactics such as ‘fingerprinting’ (where the user’s IP address is combined with their device type, local network data, clipboard contents, and any other accessible data to generate a “fingerprint” that attempts to uniquely identify that user) was being considered as a workaround, but Apple has moved to dismiss this from being allowed.

Aggregated, delayed, limited data for reporting

SKAdNetwork will mean that the data available will be aggregated, delayed and limited. It is aggregated to maintain individual user’ privacy. This means that marketers will get less granular data for analytics and insights.

App advertising data will no longer be real-time, but delayed by potentially a few days. After the install, and the user opens the app for the first time, the device will report the install 0-24 hours after a 24-hour timer expires. This means that installs will be reported 24-48 hours after the install happened.

Conversions after an install will be reported 0-24 hours after a 24-hour timer expires after the final conversion event occurs. See the next section for more details.

Events and ConversionValue

ConversionValue is the new way to measure post-install activity to define the value of users

You are given 64 values (0-63) to code events per user within the app. It is important to note that these ConversionValues can only go up, i.e. from 10 to 20. Value can only be updated by a higher value event (e.g. app registration to app free trial) and within the timer. Marketers need to keep their ConversionValue events the same across their full range of channels and ad networks to allow for consistent reporting.

It appears that the ConversionValue of 0 is reserved by Apple to report installs – so don’t try to use it for anything else.

Reporting revenue

Tying accurate and long-term revenue to advertising campaigns will become more difficult for mobile advertisers. Once the 24-hour timer expires any further events, notably revenue, will not be posted back for reporting.

But it gets even harder. All revenue has to be included in the 64 values you have to report on post install events. A different value would need to be coded for different amounts of revenue. This much less problematic if you are a subscription app with one, two or three prices. But if, for example, you are a shopping app with dozens or hundreds of different price points, then you cannot possibly postback each unique revenue amount. Therefore, you will need to bucket revenue amounts into ranges and postback a value when a user falls into a certain range. For marketers taking this approach, measuring exact ROI will not be possible.

To overcome these challenges, some marketers are attempting to build a model to predict Lifetime Value (LTV). Talk to a Mobile Measurement Partner for more information on how they are helping marketers do this.

App to web

Tracking users over the web (including mobile web) doesn’t rely on an IDFA. So app-to-web advertising might not have been too badly affected. But Apple wasn’t happy with allowing attribution of an ad click to a conversion of a single user.

PCM

Private Click Measurement (PCM) is an API from Apple that prevents websites, on Safari, from sharing data while still letting advertisers measure the impact of web advertising. Each device will be treated like it is in private browsing mode, meaning attribution will be based on limited and delayed data.

PCM has been criticised by Facebook for not being a usable solution, so they have built a solution that is designed to bring more measurement ability to app to web advertising. See section 5.1.3 Facebook Measurement for more details.

Using URL Parameters

Using URL Parameters such as UTMs to understand where web traffic arrives from should be unaffected.

Cohort Analysis

Cohort analysis involves analysing groups of users with shared characteristics. Typically in marketing, cohorts are subsets of users grouped by a date: either acquisition or ad exposure date.

Because data is aggregated and delayed without IDFAs, cohort analysis will be unusable (although some MMPs are saying they have a probabilistic solution.

A common use case of cohort analysis is determining performance by the day the ad impressions are served. Because data is delayed, that will be inaccurate, and performance will be shown by the day SKAdNetwork posts the conversion data to the publisher/MMP, regardless of when the impression was served, or when the conversion actually happened.

This will harm optimisation and may skew results (e.g. payday looks even stronger than usual, even if much of the impact was delivered by an ad three days earlier).

Nara Analytics

The data available for reporting in Nara Analytics will be aggregated, delayed and limited as it comes from MMPs and self-attributing networks (like Facebook and Google).

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