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Gabriel Kwakyi
Gabriel Kwakyi

Posted on • Originally published at


5 Steps to Prepare for iOS 14’s App Tracking Transparency & SKAdNetwork

Apple's delay of the explicit opt-in (AppTrackingTransparency) in iOS 14 was a very welcome reprieve for the iOS ecosystem, who collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

This does not mean, however, that mobile marketers can rest easy! Apple's stay on requiring developers to receive consent from users via AppTrackingTransparency only lasts until "early 2021," which means that advertisers still have just a few months more to prepare for a post-IDFA world.

So what should mobile marketers do in this time? Here are 5 recommendations on how to prepare for Apple's 2021 iOS IDFA opt-in requirement:

1. Decide whether or not you will prompt users with AppTrackingTransparency to capture a user's IDFA

A good number of companies are considering whether or not to even capture user IDFAs come 2021. These companies reason that the IDFA may be a thing of a past era of marketing, and prompting users at all with the scary language of AppTrackingTransparency is a disruptive process to all users, and hence it may be better to not capture ATT permission at all and to only operate with SKAdNetwork and other 1st party data.

There is also an inherent threat in continuing to rely on the IDFA, as Apple reserves the exclusive right to eliminate the IDFA altogether. One of the largest developers, Facebook is among those in the IDFA-less camp, creating a separate Facebook Ads account experience that does not allow IDFA upload/usage for advertising of apps running the version of iOS 14 that requires user consent.

2. Decide the new sources of your attribution data

In the new world of advertising, data will once more become highly fragmented.

  • SKAdNetwork provides deterministic, last-click attribution data directly from Apple to ad networks for all iOS users at campaign-level, limited in length and total value by the complex timer logic and conversion postback restrictions
    • Both ad networks and Mobile Measurement Providers will likely provide probabilistic estimates below campaign level, based on Apple's SKAdNetwork last-click attribution
  • AppTrackingTransparency provides deterministic user-level raw data for iOS users who give consent to tracking, which is at the user-level in granularity and fidelity that marketers currently enjoy
  • Depending on what Google's own response is, Google Ad IDs will for now continue to allow the same user-level deterministic reporting granularity and fidelity that marketers currently enjoy, and MMPs can for now continue to provide last-click attribution data on Android campaigns

Crucially, however, the concept of cohorting and tracking users over long periods of time will now be rendered impossible in iOS 14.

For iOS advertisers who want to consider MMP alternatives to aggregating performance data - consider Xyla. Xyla offers a customizable dashboard that aggregates the deterministic, last-click attribution data that SKAdNetwork provides directly via API from the main advertising channels of Facebook Ads, Google UAC, Apple Search Ads, Snapchat Ads, and TikTok Ads. For advertisers who use MMPs, Xyla also offers MMP integrations.

3. Capture all the user-level data you can and determine the appropriate rate to pay for users who complete an event that occurs within the first 24 hours of their lifetime in your app

Due to the 24-hour timer logic, tracking events beyond the first 24 hours after a user installs an app will become unreliable in 2021. This means that to continue advertising on iOS, advertisers will be best served if they can measure the success of their advertising campaigns by either a CPI or CPA/customer acquisition cost (CAC) KPI, based on events that occur reasonably within the first 24 hours after install such as a signup or trial.

For the remainder of 2020, study your advertising campaigns' user-level data trends to see what CPI or CPA based on a 24-hour event such as cost per signup leads to campaign profitability. Then, test this estimate by buying on that CPI or CPA and assessing whether your campaigns become profitable. After 2021, you can continue to refine your CPI or CPA targets by studying the user-level data trends of users who do consent to tracking via AppTrackingTransparency.

4. Start testing web-first acquisition flows

The major issue with iOS 14 is that acquiring app downloads will soon become difficult to track over time, and at the user-level, without getting consent from users. Acquiring users via web advertising circumvents this issue, if you can connect the web source to the user's app activity. For instance, if a user signs up via website, you can use UTM parameters to carry source data into the user's account, and then when the user logs into their account in your app, you may attribute their behavior back to the clickstream data sources tagged in their account.

For companies that do not have cross-platform products, check out this in-depth post on the topic of establishing web-first acquisition flows for mobile apps.

5. Get ready to raise your bids on Android advertising

From the time that Apple makes IDFA user consent mandatory until Google's response, advertisers will surely take advantage of the continuity in cohorted tracking on Android campaigns by shifting budget to Android app acquisition campaigns. This means that the auction prices for reaching Android users will increase, which means that you will need to raise your bids to maintain your auction competitiveness and volume.


If you take these 5 things into account, you'll be well on your way to being prepared for iOS 14.

As a bonus #6 action, ensure that you are using campaign automation tools to extract the most efficiencies out of your advertising campaigns.

Not only does Xyla offer flexible reporting with or without an MMP, but Xyla also allows marketers to save time and drive better results by automating their Apple Search Ads, Google UAC and Snapchat Ads campaigns.

To see how Xyla can help you simplify your marketing routine, check out Xyla's features list and get in touch for a demo.

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