Preparing our advertisers for Apple's privacy changes

February 10, 2021

Tags: Publishers, 2021

Preparing our advertisers for Apple's privacy changes
Scarlett Iu
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This blog post was originally published on CrossInstall's blog on February 10, 2021.

iOS 14.5

Apple’s newest release of the developer beta iOS 14.5 marks the rollout of their AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework. This means that beginning with iOS 14.5, IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) will only be available when a user selects “Allow Tracking” in the ATT prompt. 

Apple’s update represents a novel development to how advertising on iOS devices has historically been measured. Over the past few months, our team has been working with our clients and our industry partners to ensure that the mobile app world can continue to be a great medium for marketers.  Below you’ll find what you need to know to prepare.

Back to Basics

What is IDFA?

The Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) is a type of device ID that is randomly assigned by Apple to a user's device. With IDFA, advertisers can accurately track devices across apps and deliver personalized ads. It’s historically been the main way that advertisers track iOS devices across campaigns and measure user interactions to define qualities. 

What is SKAdNetwork?

SKAdNetwork is Apple’s own attribution system. SK stands for StoreKit, which is Apple’s framework to support developers for in-app purchases and interaction with the App Store. The 14.5 release includes updates to the SKAdNetwork, resulting in SKAdNetwork v2.2. With v2.2, Apple introduced View-Through Attribution (VTA), which allows DSPs to claim credit for installs that occur when a user installs an app within 24 hours of viewing an ad. 

What changes once ATT is enforced?

  • With respect to attribution, IDFA can only be used for device-level attribution if the user opts in on both the advertiser app and publisher app.
  • If IDFA presence cannot be relied on, app installs may be measured through SKAdNetwork.
  • Through SKAdNetwork, advertiser app titles are limited to 100 campaign IDs, which reduces data granularity for your spend.
  • With SKAdNetwork, conversion postbacks will be sent by Apple directly to CrossInstall.

What to Do Now

Use registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution() the first time your app opens.
  • In order for an install to be attributed to CrossInstall, it is important for advertisers to call the registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution() method when the app first launches. By doing so, an install notification will be generated as well as kickstarting a 24-hour timer.
  • Include the updateConversionValue() method to restart the timer for post-install events tracking. This is optional but highly recommended. Otherwise, campaigns will be optimized towards installs only. (See details below)
Decide whether you will be using the AppTrackingTransparency framework.

With respect to attribution, in order to use the IDFA for device-level attribution, developers must adopt the AppTrackingTransparency framework for IDFA collection. A key benefit of using ATT is that it will enable advertisers to have granular measurement for campaign optimisation for devices that have opted into ATT on both the advertiser and publisher apps. Be sure to place the ATT prompt in a way that minimizes user experience disruption, as Apple allows apps to ask for a user’s permission only once.

Permission opt-in notification

What to Start Thinking About

Design your Conversion Value Management System

Conversion values serve two main purposes. First, it indicates user retention and in-app behavior for advertisers to gauge the quality of the install. Second, it enables DSPs to optimize campaigns against these events. 


SKAdNetwork’s attribution window can be as long as 90 days, and a conversion value timer can be reset up to 64 times, each time delaying the postback by 24 hours. This means that the postback could potentially happen up to 150 days after the click. It is important for advertisers to carefully consider current customer journeys and set up conversion values that strike the right balance between collecting important signals while ensuring postbacks are sent in a timely manner for campaign optimization.

SKAdNetwork’s attribution window
Recommended Strategy
  • Use existing data to understand your customer journey. 
  • Identify key early events that correlate with user quality, e.g. likelihood to spend and retain.
  • Avoid going beyond 1–2 days of calls to updateConversionValue(_:). This is because timeliness of the install notifications is very important for campaign optimization.
Familiarize yourself with your SKAdNetwork solutions and new functionality.

Work with your Mobile Measurement Partner to ensure you are up-to-date with their SDK support.

Looking Forward

Our team will continue to improve and support your team to help you achieve marketing success as the ecosystem evolves. Please reach out to your account manager or for any questions.

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