Apple secretly pushed out SkAdNetwork 4.0 (SKAN 4), the most recent iteration of its privacy-based campaign measurement architecture, alongside the launch of iOS 16.1 last week. The updated version of SKAN has significant upgrades that should increase the effectiveness of the product for both mobile app developers and marketers.
With the intention of enhancing user privacy while yet giving advertisers the information they require to expand their businesses, Apple introduced the first iteration of SKAN in 2018. To do this, SKAN shares conversion data with advertisers while keeping user- or device-level information private.
A number of significant changes to SKAN 4 are expected to increase the framework’s usability and accessibility for businesses wishing to evaluate the effectiveness of their mobile marketing initiatives. To find out how the release of SKAdNetwork 4.0 might affect the field of mobile app marketing and measurement, Digiday spoke to a number of specialists.
The Key Numbers:
1. SKAdNetwork’s initial version was introduced in 2018, and subsequent iterations followed in 2020 and 2021. (Apple’s developer website makes the release notes for each version, including SKAN 4, available to the general public.)
2. Since its introduction, SKAN has gained some but not complete ubiquity in mobile app marketing and measurement. Dom Davies, a consultant for mobile games, said: “On the publishing side, we all have the SKAN IDs for the various ad providers that serve their advertising within our apps. Regarding user acquisition, I’d guess that around 75% of our budget is spent on ad networks that use SKAN attribution.
3. Since Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference announcement about the upcoming release of the revised framework in early June, observers have been looking forward to the arrival of SKAN 4. However, some people were taken aback when SKAN 4 did not debut on September 12 alongside the first release of iOS 16.
Issues with Past Versions
For users, increased privacy is undoubtedly a positive thing, but less so for developers. And SKAN has struggled to achieve widespread adoption in the field of mobile app development. Some marketers claim that earlier iterations of SKAN just don’t provide them with enough data to operate on.
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According to Katie Madding, Chief Product Officer of mobile measurement firm Adjust, “the majority of our customers are still trying to figure out how much they can get reporting and measurement to work for them with SKAN as it is today.”
Due to the intricacy of the product, Adjust still has customers who are hesitant to try out SKAN, according to Madding. The modifications Apple made to SKAN 4 may have been influenced by skepticism from some quarters.
There is currently “basically little motivation for clients to go over to this new framework” because of the challenges it has and the dearth of measurement data, according to Madding of SKAN 3. Unless, of course, Apple issues a challenge and demands that everyone do the task immediately.
The most recent version of SKAN has three significant enhancements that experts believe could increase user interest in the tool:
1. Campaign Evaluation:
Simply said, the improvements made to SKAN 4 help marketers better determine which campaigns are effective in attracting quality users to their apps. Campaigns could only be recognized using a Campaign ID number between 0 and 99 in earlier iterations of SKAN. A feature called “Source ID” in SKAN 4 gives each campaign a specific four-digit identification number. In contrast to the previous limit of 100 campaign IDs, there are now 10,000 possible ID combinations.
2. Values for Conversion:
With SKAN 4, marketers now have more options for determining the effectiveness of in-app engagement, or if users are in fact making purchases or encouraging other users to do so. Marketers have greater options to comprehend the worth of particular users because they can attribute conversion values to low, medium, or high grains.
3. Web Assistance
Marketers can now obtain enhanced web-to-app attribution through SKAN 4, which helps them comprehend the relationship between advertising in conventional web browsers and in-app engagement. Companies may implement cross-channel attribution more easily if they have ad inventory available on both the web and applications. Madding remarked, “Earlier versions of SKAN didn’t enable that in any way.”
Future Plans for SKAN:
The fixes stated above still leave SKAN 4 with several issues. And although though it might simplify things for marketers and developers working on mobile apps, most users won’t notice much of a difference once it’s released.
It’s an internal change, according to Davies. “We know SKAdNetwork has flaws, but we’ve already taken those flaws into account in our model, so we feel very confident buying with it. Anything that comes through at this stage will only make things easier for us.
Davies said he expects more upgrades and modifications to the framework as the industry gets used to SKAN 4, but he does not see any significant disruptions in the near future. It will always be a work in progress, he said, with little adjustments. “However, I believe that we have now passed the worst of it. It only needs to be improved at this stage because it already functions.