Glossary
SKAdNetwork (SKAN)
SKAdNetwork (SKAN)
SKAdNetwork (SKAN) is a framework for mobile app install measurement and attribution on iOS.

What is SKAdNetwork (SKAN)?

SKAdNetwork, or SKAN, is a framework for mobile app install measurement and attribution on iOS 14+. It allows mobile marketers to measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns by providing data on app installs and in-app events while preserving user privacy.

Why was SKAN introduced?

SKAdNetwork was introduced by Apple as a way to provide a balance between the need for measurement and the need for user privacy. Prior to SKAdNetwork, mobile marketers could collect personal data such as user ID and device ID, which allowed them to track the effectiveness of their campaigns in granular detail. However, this raised concerns about user privacy and data security. With SKAdNetwork, Apple aims to provide a framework that allows advertisers to measure the performance of their campaigns without compromising user privacy by using a unique identifier called the SKAdNetwork ID and randomized delay for reporting install events.

How does SKAN work?

Main players of SKAN

  • Target apps are the apps that users can download after clicking on an ad. The app developers are responsible for integrating the SKAdNetwork framework into their apps and sending install confirmations to the ad network. This allows the ad network to use the SKAdNetwork ID to attribute installs and events to the appropriate ad and campaign.
  • Publishing apps display the ads that users can click on to download the target app. The publishers assign a unique SKAdNetwork ID to each ad and pass it to the ad network.
  • Ad networks are the intermediaries that handle the ad delivery and receive install confirmations from the target apps. They attribute the install to the appropriate ad and campaign using the SKAdNetwork ID provided by the publisher.
  • Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) are third-party measurement and attribution tools that advertisers can use to track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

How does SKAN measure conversions?

  1. The publisher from the publishing app assigns a SKAdNetwork ID to their ads. When a user clicks on an ad on the publishing app, the ad network receives the SKAdNetwork ID.
  2. When the user installs the target app, the publishing app sends an install confirmation to the ad network, including the SKAdNetwork ID. This is also known as a conversion event.
  3. The ad network uses this ID to attribute the install to the appropriate ad campaign.
  4. The ad network also receives "views" and "StoreKit renders" events from the app. (The view event is triggered by the publisher when the ad is displayed for at least 3 seconds and notifies SKAdNetwork that the 3-second timer is up. The StoreKit render event is triggered by the publisher when the user engages with the ad, and the publisher renders the advertised app's StoreKit.)
  5. In addition to installs, SKAdNetwork also allows measurement of in-app events, such as a purchase or a level completion. The app developer can send up to 10 different in-app events to the ad network, which can then be used to measure the ad campaign's effectiveness in driving engagement and conversion.
  6. The attribution window of SKAN can be up to 30 days between click and install. However, SKAdNetwork postbacks come with a randomized delay to protect users' privacy. These delays continue until the timer runs out and the timer is set up for at least 24 hours. Once the timer expires, the ad network and the MMP receive the postback.

What are some challenges of SKAN and how can you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges mobile marketers face with SKAdNetwork is the lack of granular data. With the SKAdNetwork ID, advertisers can no longer collect personal data such as user ID or device ID. In addition, A SKAdNetwork conversion value is only defined by 6 bits, which only allows 64 values to map signals about a user’s post-install activity.

Another challenge that mobile marketers face is the randomized delay for reporting install events. This causes difficulty for marketers to track the effectiveness of their campaigns in real time.

Using an MMP like Airbridge can help mobile marketers overcome this challenge. Airbridge provides the most commonly used conversion value schemes as presets, enabling marketers to choose the best option for their app. Find out more about how Airbridge’s SKAdNetwork solutions can make it simpler to succeed on iOS while adhering to Apple’s privacy policies.

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