SKAN 4.0

Everything game apps need to know about SKAN 4.0

Last month, Apple rolled out its much anticipated SKAdNetwork (SKAN) 4.0. The latest version of its privacy-based measurement framework contains key improvements that will help make SKAN more effective for all app marketers.

In this blog, we cover the key features of SKAN 4.0 and its implications for DSPs, app marketers and SKAN-based campaigns.

Key changes of SKAN 4.0

On a high-level, there are four major improvement areas in the newest version of SKAN that will help marketers better measure and track their growth campaigns:

Campaign granularity

SKAN 4.0’s updates include greater campaign measurement granularity that will give game marketers a better understanding of the quality of the players they are driving to their apps. In previous versions of SKAN, campaigns could only be identified via a Campaign ID number between 0 and 99. SKAN 4.0 has expanded the 2-digit Campaign ID into a more detailed four-digit identifier and renamed it a “Source ID”. This gives advertisers more than 10,000 ID combinations, versus the previous 100 to assign to their campaigns.

Keep in mind, SKAN’s framework still operates on a privacy threshold. So, the granularity of all postback data is contingent on whether Apple’s privacy threshold conditions have been met. If they are met, then ad networks will receive all four digits of the source identifier. 

But, if they’re not met, then the identifier can be pushed back to three or a minimum of two digits. Since advertisers will receive the first two digits regardless of privacy threshold requirements, they should be prioritized. Any additional data that’s provided if privacy thresholds are met can be used to track more granular information, such as location and placement (as illustrated in Apple’s graphic below).

SKAN 4.0 four-digit Campaign identifier such as, campaign, location, placement

Source: Apple

Conversion values

Building off the concept of privacy thresholds, with SKAN 4.0, Apple will begin providing greater detail to its conversion value data. In SKAN’s earlier iterations, if a user did not meet the privacy threshold, the advertiser would receive a null postback. In contrast, SKAN 4.0 expands this privacy threshold into four tiers of crowd anonymity (0, 1, 2, and 3), to which each install is assigned.

Four postback data tiers. Tier 0, 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: Apple

Based on the tier that an install is assigned to, one or more of the fields available in a full postback may be dropped: fine-grain conversion value, coarse-grain conversion value, source ID, and/or source app ID.

As this allows more flexibility to meet privacy threshold constraints, null postbacks will decrease, giving advertisers more data overall to work with.

LTV Measurement

In addition to enhanced campaign granularity, SKAN 4.0 provides two additional postback windows to advertisers. This means SKAN will now offer three postback windows over the course of 35 days rather than the original single 24 hour postback window. With three postback windows to pull data from, advertisers can better understand how often a user who installed their app from a campaign engages with it over time.

Three postback windows over the course of 35 days

Source: Apple

Along with additional postback windows covering a longer period of time, Apple has also given advertisers the ability to lock conversion values in order to receive postbacks sooner. In other words, an advertiser can set a cutoff point in the postback window to “lock and finalize” a conversion value, instead of continuing to have it be updated throughout the full time period available.

Postback window with cutoff point to lock and finalize a conversion value

Source: Apple

Web-to-app attribution

With SKAN 4.0, it’s now possible to attribute web advertising that directs to App Store pages and conversions. This means app developers with inventory across app and web channels will now be able to effectively execute cross-channel attribution. For certain brand IP-based games with web-heavy markets or verticals, this will be particularly relevant.

Take note, currently SKAN 4.0 only provides web-to-app attribution for Safari but as over 90% of iOS users use Safari as their mobile browser, this covers a majority of the iOS market.

Implications and considerations for app marketers

Simply put, SKAN 4.0’s enhancements give marketers a better understanding of the campaigns that are successfully driving quality users to their apps. While ecosystem adoption of SKAN 4.0 will take some time, game app marketers can start changing their LTV measurement to make the most of its additional capabilities. Here are some recommendations for building your strategy with SKAN 4.0.

  • Consider adding a conversion lock: Optimizing campaigns as rapidly as possible is often a key factor to driving conversions. To understand your campaign performance in real time, consider adding a lockWindow so that you can get your first postback sooner than the standard 3-4.0 day window after the install occurs.
  • Prepare for uneven data reporting: Since the new 4.0-digit source ID can be anywhere from two to four digits, depending on whether the postback meets privacy thresholds, you could receive uneven data. For example, you might identify the third digit in a campaign as ‘ad placement’ but some data you receive might not meet privacy thresholds and, therefore, not include this information. Moreover, the 2nd and 3rd postbacks will still only contain 2-digit source IDs by default. This means ad placement data will only be available for postbacks received up to day 2 post-install regardless. Game app marketers should think critically about how they’ll report these uneven data outcomes in an efficient and scalable way.
  • Customize coarse values: To better understand the quality of your players, customize your coarse values to track specific events, revenue, or retention. The elements you track should be closely tied to the metrics that drive your app’s LTV to help enhance your product analytics.
Make the most of SKAN 4.0 with LifeStreet

There’s still much to be learned about the capabilities and implications of SKAN 4.0 but the opportunities are endless. At LifeStreet, we’re keeping a close eye on developments to ensure we can communicate the value of future shifts to our partners. Stay tuned for more information on how you can use SKAN’s updates to succeed on iOS. If you would like assistance planning your game app’s SKAN 4.0 strategy, we’re here to help.

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