Navigating Apple’s SKAdNetwork 4.0 Means Embracing Privacy Changes

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Katie Madding, chief product officer at Adjust.

Apple orchestrated the biggest mobile marketing landscape shift in years when it released iOS 14.5 last year. The industry shock when it learned that apps would have to get explicit user consent for targeting, measurement and tracking.

Now, at this year’s WWDC, Apple has announced a few updates to SKAdNetwork, its privacy-adjusted mobile measurement framework. The goal is to help marketers better understand user behavior while respecting their data privacy. But that’s easier said than done.

For marketers, embracing, understanding and developing a robust strategy for SKAdNetwork is essential for user engagement and measurement on iOS. From there, the key will be maximizing the value of first-party data and designing long-term acquisition and measurement strategies – based on user consent for targeted advertising.

Embrace and understand SKadNetwork

Given the current state of our privacy-centric advertising ecosystem, it’s time for marketers to decrease reliance on any gray-area tactics and embrace SKAdNetwork. It’s the future of measurement on iOS. Forward-thinking marketers will master it, not keep trying to circumvent it.

Next comes understanding of SKAdNetwork and maximizing its value. At WWDC, Apple introduced features that will increase visibility into campaign performance while maintaining user privacy.

For example, hierarchical source IDs will supply additional campaign insights depending on the sample size and privacy standards a campaign has met. Hierarchical conversion values ​​will deliver more insights for smaller campaigns. Meanwhile, assessing “multiple conversions” will help marketers understand how campaigns are performing over time.

Proactive marketers will not only familiarize themselves with these features and use them to increase intelligence within the bounds of Apple’s policies, but also adopt predictive technologies that allow them to maximize the value of less data.

Measurement is going to become more predictive and less deterministic. But predicting user response is impossible without some amount of deterministic data, which means marketers will have no choice but to rely on the SKAdNetwork when it comes to non-opted-in users.

Maximize the value of first-party data

By now, marketers know they have to focus on first-party data. But what does that mean in practice, especially on mobile?

First, marketers need to figure out what kind of first-party data they need. That means taking stock of what behaviors developers want to encourage in-app and which actions high-value users are likely to take.

Then, even when user identity is anonymized, marketers can segment their audience into high- and low-value users. Once marketers have figured out what kind of data matters and how to segment their audience without personally identifiable information, they can develop models based on predictive analytics that allow them to coordinate effective marketing strategies.

For example, predictive KPIs, especially predicted lifetime value, will enable marketers to anticipate growth opportunities within aggregated collections of SKAdNetwork and consented user data. SKAdNetwork’s latest changes will allow marketers to assess the efficacy of their predictions about which tactics will succeed with which users.

Importantly, mobile marketers can do all this measure effectiveness, predict performance and calibrate marketing strategy based on performance – without compromising individual user privacy. And once predictive models are built and achieve a workable level of precision, they should get more effective over time as observed data increases.

Focus long-term strategy on consent

A focus on consent will be the foundation of all sustainable data-driven marketing strategy going forward. The most successful marketers will become skilled at explaining the value they can provide to users in exchange for that information to earn user trust and obtain it.

Regardless of whether mobile marketers get permission to track users across apps, they should explain how the data they collect will be used and get permission to use it for advertising or share it with third parties. This is how marketers use data to build long-term relationships, not just drive one-time transactions.

Savvy mobile marketers will not run away from SKAdNetwork or privacy changes. They will instead embrace them, building powerful predictive engines to grow insights-driven businesses, even in an era when those insights no longer come quite so easily.

Follow Adjust (@adjustcom) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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