The following document provides insight into the process of attribution with the SKAdnetwork methodology and its respective capabilities. In case of any questions, please reach out to your Remerge Account Manager.
The SKAdNetwork Methodology
The SKAdNetwork framework (2018) is a user-privacy-preserving approach that offers validation of Advertiser-driven app installations in conjunction with campaign and attribution measurement capabilities. The API forwards postbacks upon installs or reinstalls. The framework fully aligns with Apple's latest data safety and security regulations and is compatible with all iOS 14.5 devices or higher without the need for in/cross-app user tracking consent.
Attribution with Apple's API SKAdNetwork is pending the completion of the following action points by their respective parties:
- Advertiser (app developer):
- Publisher (source app):
- Ad Network/DSP:
1. Ad Creation
The Ad Network (Remerge) constructs (or employs the creatives provided by the Advertiser) the most optimal Ad to promote your (Advertiser) app. Said Ad meets the previously discussed and agreed-upon requirements with your Remerge Account Manager to fit your campaign needs best.
2. Ad Signature Configuration
The Ad Network assigns your Ad with a cryptographic Signature containing campaign-specific information concerning the respective Ad (SKAdNetwork ID, Campaign ID, and Source App ID). The Signature enables Apple to verify the Ad Network (e.g., Remerge) as the Ad source and conduct attribution down the line.
3. Ad Display & App Promotion
4. Ad Click
A prospective device user views and subsequently clicks on the displayed Ad.
5. Ad Signature Content Transfer
The Ad click triggers the following course of events:
Opening of the App Install screen (StoreKit-Rendered Ad) -> Activation of the loadProduct() function -> Transfer of campaign-specific information (SKAdNetwork ID, Campaign ID, and Source App ID) to the App Store on the user's device -> Apple tentatively reserves the data on said user's device for potential attribution.
6. App Install & Launch
The device user installs (downloads) and launches (opens) the advertised app.
The App Store reserves a pending install-validation notification (postback) on a user's device for up to 90 days from the moment the Ad click occurs. In other words, an install is eligible for potential attribution, ONLY in case a user installs the app within a 30-day and launches it within a 60-day time window from the moment they first installed the advertised app.
7. First App Launch Verification
8. Install-Validation Postback Notification
The advertised app may employ multiple Conversion Values (0-63 conversion event IDs via a 6-bit Conversion Value) to match specific in-app user events (actions). Accordingly, the App Store applies the below time frames before forwarding an install-validation postback notification to an Ad Network:
- A 24-hour time frame, allocated toward a potential update (increase) of a Conversion Value associated with a more valuable user event.
- A Random 0-24 hour time frame following the former (24-hour) time frame, in case of NO update (increase) of the Conversion Value.
Once an app launch meets the attribution window requirements (up to 60 days from the app install) and both time frames have elapsed, the user's device automatically forwards an install-validation postback notification to the Ad Network. For a summarized account of attribution windows and their respective events, please refer to Events & Windows.
Cryptographically signed, the postback contains NO device/user-specific identification details, but rather ONLY values that meet Apple's user-privacy-preserving threshold (e.g., Campaign ID, Redownload flag, and possibly Conversion Value, and Source App ID).
Below is an example of an install-validation postback notification forwarded by Apple to Remerge. For a complete parameter definition breakdown, please visit our Glossary.
"version" : "2.0",
"ad-network-id" : "com.example",
"campaign-id" : 1-100,
"transaction-id" : "6aafb7a5-0170-41b5-bbe4-fe71dedf1e28",
"app-id" : 525463029,
"attribution-signature" : "MDYCGQCsQ4y8d4BlYU9b8Qb9BPWPi+ixk\/OiRysCGQDZZ8fpJnuqs9my8iSQVbJO\/oU1AXUROYU=",
9. Mobile Measurement Partner Notification
Upon completion, the Ad Network (Remerge) forwards the postback notification to the Mobile Measurement Partner.
The following is a top-level overview of the postback notification journey:
App Store (on the user's device) -> Remerge Server -> Mobile Measurement Partner Server.
10. Mobile Measurement Partner Support
The Mobile Measurement Partner offers its clients analytics and reporting capabilities via the collection and decoding of SKAdNetwork-attributed data from ALL Ad Networks and its user-friendly representation in a client dashboard.
The SKAdNetwork Capabilities
- Privacy-Preserving Attribution - In/cross-app user tracking is available ONLY upon the device user's consent. The SKAdNetwork framework enables Advertisers to practice the click-through attribution model in mobile apps without the potential compromise of sensitive user data.
- Data Granularity - The install-validation postback notification Apple forwards to the Ad Network contains Ad Signature parameters, which the Ad Network may apply to conduct granular data analysis:
- Campaign ID - A parameter (1-100 range) enabling the potential inference of data that pertain to other campaign elements.
- Redownload Flag - A Boolean flag indicating a user's first app install (false) or a reinstall, post an initial uninstall (true).
- Conversion Value (optional & conditioned by Apple's Privacy Threshold requirements) - A parameter (0-63 range) highlighting the quality of a particular user event, thus facilitating a certain level of post-app-install tracking. For further information on Apple's Privacy Threshold, please visit our FAQ.
- Deduplication Support - The Ad Signature offers a unique Transaction ID parameter that aids with the (potential) deduplication of install validation notifications.
- Publisher Transparency - The Ad Signature provides a Source App ID parameter (pending Apple's Privacy Threshold requirements) that offers visibility into Publisher apps, favorable amidst your users.
- Authentication Properties - The install-validation postback notification includes Apple's cryptographic Signature that validates Apple as the install postback source, confirms attribution, and assures user privacy.
- Level Playing Field - Apple's ability to perform attribution for all parties eliminates the likelihood of one Ad Network's advantage over the other (e.g., Self Attributing Networks).
- Fractional Targeting - The ability to target a unique user with personalized ads customized to fit their previously detected interests is impaired, as it is pending user tracking authorization for both Advertiser and Publisher apps. Country-specific targeting, however, remains a viable method.
- Challenged Frequency Capping - The Ad Network's inability to identify the user in question hinders its ability to implement user-based advertising restrictions. To that end, frequency capping solutions will require the Publisher's support.
- Impaired Measurement & Optimization:
- No User-Level Data - The install-validation postback notification forwards aggregated and anonymized data containing NO user-level data (e.g., Ad Network ID, Campaign ID, and occasionally, Publisher ID). The Ad Networks' inability to associate an in-app or click event with a particular user makes it no longer possible to run retargeting campaigns.
- Partial ROI/LTV Access - The attributed Revenue value is not a stand-alone value but rather part of the Conversion Value. Said value's presence is dependent on client/advertised app setup and privacy threshold requirements. For this reason, obtaining the exact attributed Revenue value or employing standard measures (such as 7/30 days cohort ROAS/ROI) makes for an improbable task.
- Data Transparency - Apple's Privacy Threshold, which is vital for the procurement of the Source App ID and Conversion Values, is somewhat of a vague requirement. The exact number one must reach to surpass said requirement is obscure, which raises questions concerning its behind-the-scenes logic.
- Postback Notification Complexity:
- Data Delay - Apple does NOT forward the postback notification to the Ad Network in real-time but, instead, subjects it to a substantial time delay (theoretically speaking, up to 154 days from Ad click), based on a sequence of Windows.
- Data Content - Each install-validation postback notification includes a maximum of one conversion value per an attributed install. Therefore, Advertisers will NOT receive a complete account of Conversion Values but rather the highest Conversion Values within the conversion measurement time frame ONLY.
Events & Windows
|Event (Action)||Window (Eligibility for Attribution)|
|User clicks on an Ad advertising an app -> Ad click opens a StoreKit-Rendered Ad -> User installs the app.||App Install: 30 days (post-StoreKit-Rendered Ad click).|
|User installs the app -> User launches the app.||App Launch: 60 days (post App install).|
|User launches the app -> App calls registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution.||Postback Notification (to Ad Network): 0-24 hours post the expiration of a 24-hour time frame (in case of no Conversion Value update).|
|User launches the app -> App calls updateConversionValue.||
Postback Notification (to Ad Network):
Said process might repeat itself up to 64 times (as long as each superior-valued update occurs within a 24-hour time frame from the last update).
2. A 24-hour time frame containing no further superior-valued Conversion Value updates triggers a random 0-24 hour timer.
* The Conversion Value implementation process is optional.