Trends & Insights
Post-ATT iOS UA Strategies: SKAdNetwork and More
August 17, 2023
Sarah Park

This previous month, on July 26, Airbridge took center stage in Seoul as the host of Modern Growth Stack 2023 (MGS 2023), one of Korea’s biggest AdTech and MarTech conferences. This year witnessed the largest scale yet, with a lineup of 36 speaker sessions presented by 49 distinguished industry professionals from across the world, and a total of 2,000+ participants.

Among the number of impending marketing issues and trends that were discussed, Performance Marketing & Growth Consultant Marcus Burke and Airbridge’s CEO, Roi Nam, shared their tips on how to excel as a mobile marketer amidst the momentous shift into a privacy-centric marketing era.

Below is a recap of the key highlights from their presentation titled, “Post-ATT iOS UA Strategies: SKAdNetwork and More”

Entering Apple’s privacy-centric ecosystem  

Currently, any Apple devices that run on iOS 16.1 are eligible to use the SKAN 4.0 model. While many advertising platforms have yet to migrate to the newest version, most devices are ready. As of May 2023, 81% of iPhone users worldwide have adopted iOS 16 on their devices. On the contrary, user-level data is becoming more scarce, as the overall ATT opt-in rate worldwide is at a mere 25% as of April 2022. Double opt-in rates, needed for last-click tracking, are far lower. With such disproportionate metrics and privacy regulations tightening by the minute, many marketers have been left to rethink their operational procedures and adopt new measurement strategies. 

The potential setbacks of SKAN & ATT

Burke claims that mobile marketers are no longer in a position to follow a single source of truth. Until now, they have been putting all their eggs in one basket when it comes to attribution modeling, solely relying on the last-touch attribution technique to define traffic sources. Moving forward, Burke says that marketers need to take a multifaceted approach to data collection and find ways to adopt privacy frameworks like SKAN while working with new measurement techniques like incrementality testing, extrapolation from subsets, and Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM). However, the constant rollout of privacy updates and measurement strategies has been overwhelming for many traditional marketers, and the change seems to be daunting, with multiple obstacles to navigate. 

Lack of fresh data from postback delays 

SKAN 4.0, similarly to SKAN 3.0, applies a postback delay which restricts marketers from receiving instant feedback on conversion events. Ranging from 24-72 hours, the delays are randomized and marketers could be receiving user activity data anytime in between this time window. With time being of the essence in the fast-paced mobile environment, the lack of fresh data with postback delays is a hindrance for marketers. Now, there are certain limitations to making real-time changes in strategies and campaigns for user optimization. 

Privacy thresholds (a.k.a. crowd anonymity tiers) 

Privacy thresholds, also known as crowd anonymity tiers in SKAN 4.0, require apps to reach a certain number of installs per campaign in order to track data on a granular level. Ranging from tier 0 to 3, each tier value requires apps to meet a set level of performance to access sufficient data. 

Limits to value extrapolation 

Before ATT and SKAN, user-level data was an indispensable part of mobile marketing, as it enabled marketers to provide their prospects with the most relevant and personalized content that maximized conversions. However, with the new privacy implementations, data is now siloed, meaning that they are no longer able to put together pieces of user-level data to identify conversion behavior. Instead, marketers need to rely on comparing aggregate data to identify big-picture trends and create gross strategies that may not be customizable on a user basis. 

Less room for trial and error in creatives 

Burke describes the pre-ATT creative testing process as “throwing spaghetti at the wall,” since marketers could easily test out multiple creatives until their algorithm determined the most optimal one. The deprecation of user-level data has put complexities to creative testing, with less room for trial and error and the need for a user-centric approach in campaign building. 

Combating challenges, embracing changes 

There are ways to overcome these limitations, and Burke offers tangible and actionable solutions that correspond to each area of difficulty that can be implemented in response to the dynamic circumstances. 

Patience is key with postback delays   

With SKAN postbacks, it is crucial to assign a reasonable time frame for data collection. Postback delays may tamper with marketers’ patience, but using short-term aggregate data can cause greater challenges as user behavior is extremely volatile. Keep in mind that accurate decisions will require a significant amount of data. Meanwhile, most app platforms like App Store Connect provide detailed trend visualization features that can be accessed to monitor day-to-day changes and a gradual data compilation. 

Consolidate your ad accounts with mindfulness

Consolidating the app’s ad account by focusing on a fewer number of campaigns that produce high amounts of installs may be a strategic way to meet SKAN’s privacy thresholds. While this ensures that marketers gain a wider reach and more installs, they should cut down wisely. Having fewer campaigns often means to broaden the targeting parameters and give ad platforms too much optimization authority. Since ad platform algorithms don’t always know the actual business goal of an advertiser, Burke recommends using manual bidding instead of automated bidding upon consolidating ad accounts. He also emphasizes the importance of defining specific targeting parameters when placing bids and guiding algorithms in the direction of the optimization goal. That way, marketers can allocate resources to the right group of users and maximize efficiency with aggregate data. 

Engage data from multiple sources for precise extrapolations

Data can be collected from multiple sides of an app, with the two most essential ones being SKAN data and data collected within apps. Not only should marketers collect as much information as possible, but they should also try to create as much overlap between the two datasets to get a fuller picture of the traffic and refine user acquisition strategies. 

With SKAN data, marketers can discover the activation events that are driving the highest amount of long-term engagement and tie them with trial start events. This increases the chances of first-time users converting into paid users, moving them down the funnel. Product data can be collected during the onboarding process, in which marketers can place in-app surveys like the example below, asking user-related questions such as their demographics, traffic source, and interests.

By mirroring the two, it is easily understandable where the majority of the traffic is coming from and the traits of the users in this cohort. Essentially, marketers can extrapolate information that is equally elaborate and valuable as metrics derived from granular-level data. 

Adopt a user-centric approach for creative experimentation

With fewer opportunities to experiment and receive feedback under SKAN and ATT, marketers need to gravitate towards a user-centric mindset for delivering creatives, Burke says. The absence of granular data requires them to conduct thorough audience research and set the right angles for their creative from the start. Understanding the audience’s perspective and measuring on-platform metrics like clickthrough rates and ad views is one of the most fundamental approaches to optimizing creatives under SKAN. Tactics like (1) creative testing on Android, (2) staging the roll-out of new creatives to observe downfunnel trends, and (3) sending a qualified trial event, can help mitigate risks when exploring new creative concepts. Burke recommends to send the qualified trial event when users have started a trial and triggered a meaningful activation event to distinguish higher and lower intent trials.

Airbridge’s action plan for post-ATT marketing 

Airbridge Dashboard

As one of the world’s leading mobile measurement partners (MMP), Airbridge remains updated with the rapidly developing industry as we constantly innovate and improve our tools to reflect the change. In particular, Nam elaborates on the “SKAN Is Null Conversion Value” feature on Airbridge’s dashboard that uses SKAN postbacks to track campaign conversion rates. He explains how this feature assists the account consolidation process by easily determining campaigns marketers should focus on to meet privacy thresholds and access user-level data.

👉 If you’d like to learn more about how Airbridge can help you master your app marketing strategies under SKAN 4.0 & ATT, request a demo now! 

Final thoughts 

On a finishing note, Nam and Burke reiterate the significance of adapting to these changes and remaining proactive to face the future. SKAN 4.0 is rolling out as we speak, and the mobile marketing industry is progressively shifting gears to become privacy-focused. In the end, SKAN and ATT are pushing marketers in the right direction by removing the technicalities and heavily equation-based marketing procedures. This hands-on approach will eventually lead them to improved results, which is why Burke finally advises that marketers need to “embrace these new functionalities because they are the future, and they can be beneficial.” 

💡 Marcus Burke is an industry expert based in Berlin, Germany that works as a Performance Marketing & Growth Consultant. He has over 11 years of experience as a full-stack mobile marketer for subscription apps and games. For more information, connect with Marcus on LinkedIn! 
Want to get more insights?
Get a mail whenever a new article is uploaded.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Check out our all-in-one package that fits every stage of your growth.
Sarah Park
Marketing Specialist
Subscribe to the newsletter for marketing trends, insights, and strategies.
Get a mail whenever a new article is uploaded.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Talk to us!

Ready to accelerate your app's growth?
The expertise and tools you need are just a chat away.
Join 20,000+ leading app marketing professionals for weekly insights
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.