For months, two of the most crucial pieces of information necessary for attribution were absent in the postbacks coming from SKAdNetwork.

Cellular advert networks have been busily stress testing SKAdNetwork in preparation for Apple’s IDFA modifications – however they have been doing so with one arm tied behind their again.

For months, two of essentially the most essential items of knowledge vital for attribution had been absent within the postbacks coming from SKAdNetwork, which is Apple’s API for enabling advert networks and advertisers to attribute installs instantly from the App Retailer.

Unbiased analyst John Koetsier first called attention to the difficulty in late October.

The primary lacking bit of information was conversion worth, a time-limited mechanism for post-install measurement, and the opposite was supply app ID, which is the writer app the place an advert ran. Correct attribution is unimaginable with out each of those parameters in place.

Though conversion worth and supply app ID had been each alleged to have been added to an updated version of SKAdNetwork launched in June, it took greater than 4 months for Apple to make them out there.

On Nov. 6, with out fanfare or any kind of announcement, Apple lastly fixed the problem and cell advert platforms, similar to ironSource, and attribution firms, similar to AppsFlyer, began receiving postbacks with conversion worth and supply app ID included.

“The most important showstopper which prevented advertisers from actually testing SKAdNetwork is now eliminated,” mentioned Barak Witkowski, common supervisor of AppsFlyer.

Testing, testing

To be truthful, there have been some issues that advert networks, builders and advertisers might start testing even with out conversion worth and app supply ID.

The redownload ID inside SKAdNetwork was useful, for instance, mentioned Yevgeny Peres, VP of development at ironSource.

Networks and cell measurement suppliers might additionally do the mandatory prep work to rearrange the intricate set of relationships vital to permit knowledge to circulation between companions. That a part of the method was not depending on the lacking fields.

Advert networks want to have the ability to ship cryptographically protected postbacks collected from the iOS machine itself to an advertiser’s cell measurement accomplice. The MMP then has to reply to the advert community with a translation to decrypt the postback. That is accomplished to keep away from set up fraud. The MMP is the one entity that is aware of what an advertiser’s conversion worth refers to. From there, attribution data is made out there to advertisers within the SKAdNetwork dashboard.

“Everybody within the SKAdNetwork protocol has to play their function appropriately for this to work,” Witkowski mentioned.

Now that Apple has instituted its repair and SKAdNetwork 2.0 is useful, builders and their companions can transfer ahead with their testing, Peres mentioned, although they nonetheless don’t have full visibility into the real-world influence of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework.

That, Peres mentioned, will rely on opt-out charges when the ATT framework goes stay.

None shall pass!Clock is ticking

Even with conversion worth included in postbacks, advertisers are fairly restricted in what they’ll measure by SKAdNetwork. And that’s by design. Apple is purposely making it tough for anybody to determine a consumer’s id.

As soon as the SKAdNetwork API known as for the primary time, for instance, a 24-hour timer is ready. An app is allowed to share a conversion worth inside that window that corresponds to a six-bit quantity with values between zero and 63. The 24-hour window renews with each subsequent name that features a increased worth than the earlier conversion worth.

When the primary timer expires, Apple units a second timer with a random period between zero and 24 hours, throughout which era it’s not potential to name the API. When the second timer expires, the machine sends the postback to the advert community, which sends it to the MMP – etcetera.

“Not solely do you might have restricted knowledge that may be handed, you’re coping with this advanced timer mechanism,” AppsFlyer’s Witkowski mentioned. “And so advertisers now have to consider one thing they by no means needed to earlier than iOS 14: What ought to they measure with these bits of knowledge and what are the professionals and cons of protecting the timer alive?”

Regardless of these inherent constraints, nevertheless, conversion worth is the one mechanism that advertisers can use to tie post-install downstream exercise with a selected marketing campaign.

Privateness threshold

And right here’s one other wrinkle. In its documentation about verifying an install validation postback, Apple refers back to the idea of a “privateness threshold” that have to be met to ensure that conversion worth and/or the supply app ID to look.

Apple doesn’t outline what the privateness threshold is or what must be accomplished in an effort to fulfill that requirement, and till it does so, “we simply don’t know,” mentioned ironSource’s Peres.

With out conversion worth and supply app ID, an advertiser may solely know {that a} conversion occurred, and just about nothing else about it.

It’s “undoubtedly one other grey space,” mentioned Shamanth Rao, CEO and founding father of cell consumer acquisition startup Rocketship HQ.

“Whereas I see why Apple would need to put a privateness threshold to stop oblique attribution of customers, the opacity round this makes it more durable for entrepreneurs to plan their technique round SKAdNetwork,” he mentioned. “For example, if the privateness threshold is so excessive that there are only a few conversions out there, then that defeats the complete function of conversion values.”

And the clock is ticking.

Apple’s IDFA changes were postponed until “early next year,” however early subsequent 12 months is lower than two months away, and it’s unsure whether or not SKAdNetwork – or the cell advert ecosystem – can be prepared for prime time in time.

“Whereas there definitely goes to be time to simulate efficiency earlier than the change kicks in, there nonetheless received’t be something near enough preparation, as a result of it’s going to be onerous to deduce how CPMs will behave or how consumer conduct will change,” Rao mentioned. “And people will essentially influence how effectively SKAdNetwork will perform for entrepreneurs.”