How iOS 14 Disrupts Mobile Ad Campaign Attribution

By: David Lundell, Senior Director of Product Management, Flurry Analytics

Last week we explained why the release of iOS 14 will reduce publisher ad revenue and how Flurry can help reverse some of that impact. This week we focus on how iOS 14 will also impair mobile ad campaign attribution

In the pre-iOS 14 world, Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) used IDFAs to report granular details about app install campaigns. With freely collected IDFAs, advertisers could learn which app showed an ad, the specific campaign and creative used to drive an install, and even actions taken by end users after downloading an advertised app. As we enter a new era in which the majority of IDFAs will no longer be available, this mobile attribution model has been upended.  

To address the gap it is creating for MMPs, Apple has improved its own SKAdnetwork framework. SKAdnetwork helps advertising apps and ad networks connect their campaigns to installs.

Apple SKAdnetwork helps advertising apps and ad networks connect their campaigns to installs

When a new app is installed, the advertising app registers for attribution and sets a Conversion Value to indicate the value of the user. Apple will periodically send postbacks to the ad network that delivered the install, reporting the campaign, publisher app and conversion value associated with the install. 

For end users that have not opted into tracking, SKAdnetwork metadata is the only way for apps to measure campaign performance. And Conversion Value is the only indicator beyond the install event to gauge the quality of the install. To ensure user privacy, Apple has designated itself as the only intermediary that can track and report attribution for these installs.

Conversion Value is a six bit value set by the app after users launch a new app for the first time. Apps can update the conversion value within 24 hours. Updating the value automatically resets a 24-hour timer, which postpones Apple from reporting attribution data to ad networks. With 6 bits – which creates a possible 64 different values – and a limited time in which to set those values, apps will need to be smart about using Conversion Value to effectively describe and predict the user’s expected lifetime value.

Flurry will help simplify this process with new features we are developing. Starting with a new SDK we will release later this August, Flurry will first make it easy to set, manage and evaluate the Conversion Value that an app reports back to SKAdnetwork. The SDK will include a way to provide the Conversion Value as a Flurry User Property, enabling you to analyze and compare users with different Conversion Values. For example, you can see how users with one Conversion Value converted in one of your funnels versus users with a different Conversion Value. Or, you can breakout Flurry charts (including active users, new devices and sessions) to show top 10 Conversion Values.

So how can publishers like you further use the 6 bit value within a limited time frame to effectively place a value on an install? Flurry will help you there, too. With Flurry, you can use the Conversion Value to indicate user retention and in-app behavior which Flurry Analytics already measures. Our August SDK release will make it easy for you to use Flurry’s out-of-the-box solution to set the ‘number of days since install’ along with key events that the end user triggered, such as Registration, Log In, Subscription or In-App Purchase. We’ll describe this solution in more detail in next week’s post. 

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