How iOS 14 privacy changes impact user acquisition teams, SKAdNetwork Timer, and more

Tanya Sardana
January 25, 2021 5:14 AM

Watch the video: 


Hello everyone! Welcome back to our channel, where we discuss trends, news, and insights to stay ahead in the dynamic world of mobile marketing. 

Today, we’re going to continue our conversation about the implications of iOS14 on mobile advertising.  

Let’s dive right in! 

Apple devices offer access to lucrative audience segments,  having over 720 million active users around the world. This is where high-converting users are, so no matter the changes Apple introduces, advertisers will have to follow suit. As the world’s, and particularly regulators interest intensifies in putting user-privacy first, it is likely that even Google will make similar changes to their Google Ad Identifier (or GaID) in the near future.  

To date, advertisers on the iOS ecosystem have access to much more granular reporting. This made it possible to target narrow audience segments, generate detailed post-install conversion analytics, and thus continually optimize campaigns to get better results.  

The deprecation of the IDFA dramatically re-adjusts the landscape. Without access to the same level of personalized data, delivering targeted ads on past user behavior (such as which users make purchases in which apps) and attributing post-install conversions (which are the ones that truly matter) will be extremely challenging. MNI Targeted Media’s Director, Brooke Willcox, estimates that these changes will result in a 52% decrease in advertising revenue. 

Lets talk about post-install conversions. They are a critical metric that advertisers rely on to assess the impact of campaigns, answering the question; did this campaign drive revenue? Conversion values are still decrypted by MMPs and used to provide valuable attribution to advertisers. However, as Apple’s new App Transparency Framework launches in Q1 2021, publishers will have to rely on the limited conversion values  provided to them through Apple’s SKAdNetwork, it’s in-house attribution alternative. These conversion values will no longer be real-time and rely on a complex timer mechanism that restricts conversion attribution for campaigns, in the interest of protecting user-level data. 

As per advertiser feedback, there is significant confusion with the SKadnetwork postback timer. Here’s how it works. 

Before launching campaigns, advertisers must map their Conversion Values and understand that there will one postback sent without any date or time parameters. This post back will only contain an install and one conversion event, which is highest conversion value that occurred. 

Now the campaign timer starts , and when a new user installs an app, a timer starts for 24 hours. If no defined Conversion Value occurs in those 24 hours, then the timer simply expires and fires the install postback at a random time within the next 24 hours. Any conversions that occur after this initial 24 hours are not recorded or attributed to this particular campaign. 

Now, if a defined Conversion Value does occurs in 24 hours, the chances of which are rare for games and majority of apps, then the timer resets for an other another 24hours. Now if no Conversion Value occurred in the next 24 hours, then SKADNetwork fires a post back with the install and the first Conversion value in the next 24 hours, after the second run of the timer has expired. However, if another Conversion Value is fired after that initial 24 hours, then the timer reset again, and this process repeats until no Conversion value is fired within a 24 hour window. 

According to Apple’s documentation, a “privacy threshold” must be met to get conversion values. What exactly needs to be done to meet this requirement is yet to be determined. 

This is severe for mobile advertisers who have been able to attribute specific revenue amounts and all associated in-app events to campaigns and high-converting users at scale. This is what made performance marketing work. 

Now, apps and games may get pushy for the users to convert right when they install the app. However, it’s useless if they do, unless you’re a subscription app and have a paywall, as the timer expires in 24hr each time a conversion happens, and that’d be a lot of pushy user experience. 

We’ve seen some apps attempting to avoid all this and create web-conversion flows, but that user journey has been clunky. 

As for things like frequency capping, i.e. restricting the amount of times target users see an ad to limit fatigue and overspending, is also something mobile advertisers will be kissing goodbye, as it’s no longer possible with  unidentifiable users and without device-level attribution. 

Now, the industry will have to use less-accurate identifiers such as IP addresses, device types, and other probabilistic variables, which in many cases have an attribution accuracy of less than 50%. It’s tough to run CPA campaigns on 50% accuracy. CPI campaigns, on the other hand, is what we believe will thrive, even though 33% of most install are fraudulent, and SKADnetwork is quite susceptible to fraud. More on this later. 

Retargeting.. retargeting is dead. It is the most severely affected acquisition channel of all, due to it's heavy reliance on user and device data. 

We see contextual targeting based on relevant user behavior and broader segmentation to become more prominent. Some publishers may look at one-time or subscription fees to offset lost revenue. But this doesn’t apply to the vast majority of shopping or delivery apps. 

As the early adopters integrate SkADNetwork and run their initial tests, we’re still figuring out how will targeting and bidding work? how ROAs be measured?; and Ad spend allocated? 

Only time and testing new solutions will deliver answers. Although we think we’ve found a solution. 

If you liked this video, then hit like and subscribe below, and leave a comment to let us know how you’re adjusting to these changes and what else you would like us to cover. 

And if you’re a mobile advertiser, check out our new solution that continues to generate deterministic conversion data on iOS 14 while being in compliance with Apple’s privacy mandate. To know more, you can visit our website at The website link will be in the description below. 

Till next time (sign-off)