Mapendo Team
March 31, 2022

In mobile app marketing, SKAdNetwork has a big impact, and it is pivotal especially in the context of app install campaigns after the introduction of Apple’s iOS14 update.

What is SKAdNetwork?

SKAdNetwork is part of Apple iOS and allows advertisers to respect user privacy and measure app install campaign performance at the same time. It works without IDFA, which means it is a viable option in the cases in which users hide their IDFA, i.e., when they choose to opt-out in the ATT prompt. 

SKAN involves 4 main players:

  1. The publishing app: the app where the ad is shown.
  2. The ad network: the connection between the publishing app and the advertisers' app.
  3. The target app: the advertised app that the user is expected to install and where they are expected to perform various post-install events.
  4. The MMP (Mobile Measurement Partner): a platform provider that organizes and attributes app data to give an assessment of app install campaigns. Prior to iOS 14, MMPs could use deterministic attribution with IDFA, without needing consent from the users. Now, however, MMPs are only able to use mobile deterministic attribution when the user opts in.

Let's see how this works.

The publishing app displays an ad and notifies SKAdNetwork as soon as a minimum 3-second timer starts. If the ad is displayed for 3 seconds or more, that ad is considered a success. If the user then engages with the displayed ad, the publisher app sends the advertised app to the StoreKit. At this point, the user can install and launch the app within the SKAdNetwork mobile attribution window, and if they do, the install will be attributed to the ad network randomly within a timeframe of 24-48 hours.


Why is SKAdNetwork important?

SKAdNetwork is important because, in the post- IDFA world, SKAdNetwork is actually the only way to perform deterministic attribution when a user hides their IDFA.

Unless a user gave consent for their data to be used for tracking purposes, SKAdNetwork became Apple’s intended way for advertisers to attribute installs or post-install events to a specific app install campaign.


What you need to know about SKAdNetwork

  • SKAdNetwork was introduced in 2018 and it was developed to provide accurate mobile attribution preserving users’ privacy and personal data;
  • SKAdNetwork postbacks are not rendered to the ad network and advertisers in real time, they are delayed. Thus, because of delayed conversions, app install campaign optimization is limited and difficult. On the other hand, postbacks ensure the privacy of the user's personal data;
  • SKAdNetwork does not send postback related to the post-install events, it uses instead a 6-bit system where users are ranked from 0 to 63 based on the post-install events (in-app purchase, install, login etc.) they perform which it has been sent along with the install postback.