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Demystifying SKAN: The New App Attribution Solution for iOS


In the ever-changing landscape of mobile app marketing, staying up to date with the latest attribution solutions is crucial for advertisers. With the introduction of iOS 14 and the enforcement of Apple's AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework, advertisers have had to adapt their strategies to comply with user privacy regulations. One significant change that came with iOS 14 is the introduction of SKAdNetwork (SKAN), Apple's new app attribution solution. Let's demystify SKAN and explore its implications for iOS app marketers:


  • What is SKAdNetwork (SKAN)?

SKAdNetwork is Apple's privacy-centric attribution framework introduced with iOS 14. It allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns without compromising user privacy. SKAN aims to provide aggregated attribution data while limiting the amount of user-level data shared with advertisers and ad networks.

  • How does SKAN work?

SKAN operates differently from traditional attribution methods. Instead of providing granular user-level data, SKAN focuses on privacy preservation. When a user installs an app after interacting with an ad, SKAN provides limited aggregated data back to the ad network or source. This data includes campaign-level information such as the source app ID, campaign ID, and conversion value.

  • Implications for iOS App Marketers:

a. Privacy Compliance: SKAN is designed to align with Apple's privacy guidelines, enabling advertisers to respect user privacy and comply with regulations. Advertisers need to implement SKAN to ensure they meet Apple's requirements and maintain access to measurement and attribution data.

b. Limited Data Insights: SKAN provides a more privacy-conscious approach to attribution, but it also means that advertisers receive limited data insights compared to traditional attribution methods. Advertisers must adapt their measurement and optimization strategies to work with the aggregated data provided by SKAN.

c. Conversion Value Optimization: SKAN allows advertisers to track and optimize their campaigns based on conversion values. Conversion values are predefined in-app events that indicate specific user actions or behaviors. Advertisers can assign different conversion values to different actions, allowing them to optimize campaigns based on specific post-install actions.

d. Collaboration with Ad Networks: Advertisers need to work closely with ad networks and partners to ensure proper SKAN implementation. Collaboration is crucial to align on conversion value mapping, postback handling, and measurement methodologies within the SKAN framework.

  • Adapting Strategies:

a. Focus on First-Party Data: With limited access to user-level data, advertisers should prioritize leveraging their own first-party data for campaign optimization and personalization. Utilizing customer data platforms (CDPs), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and other first-party data sources can help enhance targeting and messaging strategies.

b. Contextual Targeting and Creative Optimization: Given the limitations of user-level data, advertisers should emphasize contextual targeting and creative optimization to deliver relevant and engaging ad experiences. Testing different creative variations and messaging approaches can help identify the most effective combinations.

c. Experiment with Incrementality Testing: Incrementality testing allows advertisers to measure the incremental lift generated by their campaigns. By comparing the behavior of users exposed to ads with a control group of users who were not exposed, advertisers can gain insights into the true impact of their campaigns beyond SKAN's aggregated data.

d. Diversify Attribution Approaches: While SKAN is the default attribution solution for iOS, advertisers can explore other attribution methods such as probabilistic modeling, fingerprinting, or leveraging other data sources to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their campaign performance.


As advertisers navigate the iOS app marketing landscape under the SKAN framework, understanding its principles and adapting strategies accordingly is vital. By embracing privacy-centric attribution solutions, optimizing campaigns based on aggregated data, and leveraging first-party data, advertisers can continue to drive app growth and engagement while respecting user privacy on iOS devices.


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