Apple has always distinguished itself in the tech world by insisting on customer privacy. They have often extended this approach beyond mere mandatory regulation.
While this is a laudable aim and has certainly helped secure an industry leader position for Apple, it is frustrating for advertisers and games developers who would like to leverage user data to help sell apps, add-ons, and upgrades.
With iOS 14.5’s release on April 26th, 2021, things became even more challenging, because it is no longer possible to track individual users at a granular level. However, Apple hasprovided a concession, an opt-in network for advertisers and developers called SKAdNetwork.
SKAdNetwork allows limited ad tracking, but without breaching individual user privacy.
What is SKAdNetwork and how does iOS14.5 limit ad tracking?
Every Apple device has an IDFA (Identity for Advertisers) – this is a code that makes it possible to track users’ data. These unique identifiers are no longer available to advertisers. Instead, those seeking helpful data to inform their marketing campaigns will have to opt in to the SKAdNetwork. The SK in SKAdNetwork stands for StoreKit, Apple’s toolkit for developers to connect with the app store as well as in-app purchases.
SkAdNetwork was created in 2018, replacing the ATT (Ad Tracking Transparency) framework which permitted limited access to the IDFAs. The second release of SKAdNetwork is designed as a compromise, giving developers access to data, but not at the level of individual users. Now the only data that will be shared by Apple will be aggregated and anonymized.
What ad attribution information is released and when?
When a user downloads and installs an app, Apple will release certain key information about that activity, after a deliberate delay of at least 24 hours (to prevent individual user targeting). Advertisers will still know:
- The publisher and campaign IDs (limited to 100 values per network user) that displayed the ad.
- Data on whether this is a first time install or a re-download.
- Conversion values – limited access to post install activity on the app, but anonymized. An example might be the highest level attained on a game in the first 24 hours.
- Cryptographically secure and verified attribution, guaranteeing reliability of the data.
The data that developers, publishers and ad networks can retrieve is aggregated and basic. However, clever analysts can still tell which campaigns work best at which times, for which user groups, and how popular apps are, among other valuable insights.
How do I join the SKAdNetwork?
The Network is designed to require a tripartite eligibility and consent process:
- Apple consents to share opted-in users data with eligible members of the network.
- Users opt-in to this data sharing with more detailed consent forms.
- Developers and Advertisers opt-in by passing eligibility measures and securing SKAdNetwork IDs.
Ad Network members need to register with Apple to gain access to their API and have an SKAdNetwork ID assigned. They can then pass this ID on to those entities they partner with.
To register, developers log in to Apple’s developer site and complete an application form. They then receive their ad network ID and create a cryptographic key which they share with Apple for future verification purposes.
Finally, participants must provide a URL for receiving SKAdNetwork postbacks of app installations.
What does a SKAdNetwork ID consist of?
Each ID will be a ten-character string of numbers and letters particular to the developer, publisher, or advertiser:
How does SKAdNetwork affect app developers?
Developers working on iOS versions of their apps must already supply XML Files to Apple listing various properties of their applications. This is called an info.plist file.
With the development of iOS 14.5 and beyond, this file must also contain a full rundown of SKAdNetwork IDs who will have access to postback data (information passed back to developers concerning installations). The onus is on publishers to collect all the SKAdNetwork IDs from the networks they work with in order not to inadvertently breach Apple’s privacy policies.
The SKAd IDs of all developer and advertiser partners must be listed in the XML file under dictionary tags, i.e.
<! – -DeveloperName – – >
The code is repeated for each entry in the list (each individual SKAdNetwork item).
Where can I get a list of SKAdNetwork IDs?
MyAppFree provides a FREE and regularly updated list of the best SKAdNetwork IDs to integrate to boost your business.
Gain more data and more installations by checking out our comprehensive listing HERE.
This is a FREE service for developers, and we’ll help you add or submit new IDs to the list.