AdAttributionKit vs SKAdNetwork

Giulia Bergamaschi
July 9, 2024
AdAttributionKit vs SKAdNetwork

AdAttributionKit and SKAdNetwork are useful tools to obtain accurate mobile app attribution, which is critical for measuring the success of marketing campaigns.

SKAdNetwork was introduced by Apple in 2018. Its launch revolutionized the world of mobile advertising after the release of iOS 14.5 in 2021 turned it into the only viable tool for deterministic attribution.

Apple has now launched another useful tool for detailed data insights: AdAttributionKit. This new model solves some of the problems presented by SKAdNetwork and adds essential features to obtain improved data and access more than one platform.

What's SKAdNetwork?

SKAdNetwork is Apple’s proprietary solution for mobile app install attribution, designed to enhance user privacy and preserve personal data. Introduced in 2018, SKAdNetwork limits the amount of data advertisers can access, ensuring that user privacy is maintained while still allowing for essential ad performance metrics.

SKAdNetwork’s key features include:

  • Privacy preservation. SKAdNetwork prioritizes user privacy by anonymizing data and providing only aggregate-level insights.
  • Deterministic attribution. It provides a clear and direct link between an ad interaction and an app install without relying on device-level identifiers.
  • Conversion value. Advertisers can set a conversion value to track post-install events up to 63 levels, allowing for some degree of performance measurement while maintaining user privacy.
  • Postback data. Limited postback data includes the ad network identifier, campaign identifier and conversion value, sent to the ad network and the app developer after a conversion event.
  • Integration with Apple Ecosystem. Seamless integration with iOS devices and Apple's ecosystem, making it a native solution for iOS app marketers.

What's AdAttributionKit?

AdAttributionKit is a third-party attribution solution designed by Apple to provide detailed insights into ad performance while maintaining user privacy. It offers more flexibility and data granularity compared to SKAdNetwork, making it suitable for advertisers seeking in-depth analysis of their campaigns.

Now let’s find out what’s changing with AdAttributionKit:

  • Re-engagement through universal links. This was one of the most anticipated features as it was missing with SKAdNetwork. Now if a user who already has the app installed on their phone clicks on the ad marked for re-engagement, a universal link will be used to open the app and direct them to the in-app location defined in that link. This ensures a more seamless and personalized experience for the user.
  • Support for multiple app stores. AdAttributionKit ensures comprehensive attribution by supporting multiple app stores, not just the Apple App Store.
  • Lower fraud risk with stricter ad verification:
    1. JWT signed ads. Now all ads, impressions and clicks need to be signed with JSON Web Tokens (JWT) to verify authenticity.
    2. View-through ads. Ads only count when displayed for at least 2 seconds and are displayed one at a time, reducing the risk of fraudulent impressions.
  • Easy testing with developer mode. This new feature aims to make testing easier for marketers. This also leads to:
    1. Time randomization removal.
    2. Shorter conversion windows.
    3. Quicker postback transmission.
  • Post-install in-app event tracking. It also tracks post-install events such as in-app purchases, registrations and other user interactions. This provides a comprehensive view of the user’s funnel, from ad click to engagement within the app.
  • Install attribution. AdAttributionKit can identify which ad campaigns are responsible for app installs. This is useful to determine the source of each install, thus helping marketers understand which ads are most effective.

AdAttributionKit vs SKAdNetwork

The main differences between SKAdNetwork and AdAttributionKit are:

  • Re-engagement. AdAttributionKit now supports re-engagement, enabling advertisers to re-engage users who have previously installed the app. This is an important shift with respect to SKAdNetwork, which was lacking this opportunity for advertisers.
  • Alternative app store coverage. AdAttributionKit was initially designed for alternative app stores but has now been expanded to include the App Store as well. You can use either SKAdNetwork or AdAttributionKit, or both, with interoperability clearly outlined by Apple.
  • Custom creative support. AdAttributionKit offers new functionality with three methods for displaying ads: custom click ads, view-through ads, and banner and full-screen listing style overlays.
  • Testing. AdAttributionKit introduces a developer mode to improve testability, which wasn’t very easy with SKAdNetwork. Therefore, time randomization is removed, conversion windows are shortened, and postback transmission is sped up.
  • Deep linking. Related to the re-engagement feature, AdAttributionKit leverages universal links to direct users who already have the advertised app installed to specific screens within the app, enhancing user experience and engagement.


While SKAdNetwork serves as a solid option for those prioritizing user privacy with minimal data needs, AdAttributionKit stands out as the superior choice for advertisers seeking detailed insights, real-time data, and cross-platform support.

By understanding the strengths and limitations of both tools, advertisers can make informed decisions to enhance their mobile marketing strategies. AdAttributionKit offers a comprehensive and flexible solution that not only respects user privacy but also empowers advertisers with the data needed to optimize their campaigns effectively.