Ever since SKAN was introduced to the industry, there has been an ongoing debate about how it can be improved to protect user privacy while also being beneficial for app developers. Apple has constantly made improvements over the past years, introducing new features, like multiple postbacks, web-to-app measurement for Safari, hierarchical source IDs, and more.

Announced slightly over a year ago (mid-2022), SKAN 4.0 still lacks penetration. A few top players can brag about 100% SKAN 4 adoption, however, at WWDC 2023 Apple briefly announced SKAN 5.0. No official presentation of the new SKAdNetwork version has been made – instead, bits and pieces of the upcoming update were mentioned across multiple Apple presentations, leaving a lot of room for assumptions until we will get all the details.

Re-engagement postback

It looks like the most important and relevant change in SKAN for app marketers would be measuring re-engagement. Before you get overexcited, it’s highly unlikely that SKAN 5.0 will support running re-engagement campaigns, just like the previous versions, however, it’s a step up for the market.

“SKAdnetwork will support measuring re-engagement. In addition to measuring conversions after a user downloads your app, you’ll also be able to measure conversions after a user opens your app by tapping on an ad.” – Cris Markiewics, Senior Program Manager, App Store

Up until now, advertisers had no way of seeing the postbacks from UA campaigns if the app had already been installed on the user’s device. Bigger app developers with high market penetration will definitely benefit from this update, as it will allow them to see the postbacks if they hit an existing user.

Farewell to fingerprinting

Privacy Manifests for SDKs

To protect user privacy further and prohibit fingerprinting, Apple will require all third-party SDK developers to submit their privacy manifests. In their manifests, SDK developers will need to justify the use of different data points (categories of data the app or third-party SDK collects as well as the reasons why the data is collected).

Required Reason API

Apple has issued multiple statements against fingerprinting from the moment SKAN was first announced. “Regardless of whether a user gives your app permission to track, fingerprinting is not allowed.”

However, they haven’t done much to prevent it. The next update might put an end to the technology widely adopted by multiple industry players.

Any APIs that could potentially be used for fingerprinting will be required to state the allowed purpose of usage and declare it. Going further, they will only be allowed to use the data for the stated purposes.

When will SKAD 5.0 be released?

The exact date has yet to be announced, however, industry experts expect that the new version will be released with the new iOS17 – on Monday, Sept 18th.