Advertising Strategies and Lessons


Apple’s SKAdNetwork: Just The Facts

July 22, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Apple’s SKAdNetwork, which will kick off with the release of iOS 14 in September, could mark the new standard for mobile app install attribution. The latest update continues Apple’s efforts to maintain the privacy of their users, and it will likely require advertisers to adjust how they measure success and serve ads.

What Is Apple’s SKAdNetwork?

Shutterstock_768921673 Chonburi, Thailand - December 05, 2017 : Apple iPhone 8 Plus showing Touch ID or Enter Passcode screen. It was held by woman's hand in cafe shop.

Apple’s coming SKAdNetwork will change the amount of information that marketers receive when an app is downloaded on an iPhone. According to AdAge, “instead of giving marketers the user IDs of those who downloaded its app, the identity of the device it was downloaded on, and what creative led to that conversion, Apple will now share only whether an ad resulted in a download, plus a few other technical details, but no personally identifiable information.” 

How Does Apple’s SKAdNetwork Impact Digital Marketers?

This decrease in tracking information provided by Apple’s SKAdNetwork could be problematic for advertisers who rely on certain measurement tools for reporting, optimization and budgeting for future campaigns. Advertisers will have to rely on contextual marketing (vs. targeting consumer behaviors) and A/B testing to see which campaigns generate the most performance. The new app download attribution data for Apple devices will only say (for the most part) that a download has occurred, without offering personalized information on the user, limiting future opportunities for propensity marketing.

Is There Good News For Digital Marketers Related To Apple’s SKAdNetwork?

Yes. There are a few granular bits of intel that will come with Apple’s SKAdNetwork, including which publisher is responsible for driving which install. An article about the change in Ad Exchanger notes that SKAdNetwork publisher reporting is good news for marketers who are able to do “publisher-level optimization.” However, due to privacy concerns, apps with low installs will not receive this reporting.

There are also a lot of questions still to be answered, which Apple hasn’t yet weighed in on, meaning the implementation of SKAdNetwork could be an evolving story with more details to come. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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