SKAN 4.0 Is Set to Impact Your Mobile Marketing: Here’s How InMobi Plans to Help 

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B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



With the fourth edition of Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) set to roll out by the end of this year, there’s plenty to look forward to when it comes to advertising to iOS customers. 

For the uninitiated, SKAN was released in 2018 several years ahead of the launch of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT), and has seen several iterations in the years since.  Currently, SKAN 3.0 provides iOS app marketers the highest level of privacy-safe attribution insights available when users have not opted into tracking via ATT. 

While some ad platforms chose to play the waiting game when it came to adding SKAN to their options for marketers, and others simply ignored it entirely, mobile advertising company InMobi invested quickly and heavily to ensure it had a competitive offering available to continue targeting, attributing and optimizing iOS campaigns at scale in a privacy-first, post-IDFA world. 

Now, just two years after the launch of ATT, InMobi stands tall as a leading light when it comes to secure, privacy-safe marketing to iOS users – so how did it get to such a point, and what does InMobi see as the future of SKAN for marketers? 

That’s what B&T set out to discover, sitting down to discuss all things SKAN with Sara Camden, Head of Product Marketing, North America for InMobi DSP and Richard O’Sullivan, VP and General Manager for Australia and New Zealand at InMobi.

Camden helped to explain how InMobi knew to bet on SKAN, and why the imminent release of the fourth iteration marks the perfect time to get on board. 

First things first, however: what exactly is SKAN? “It’s essentially Apple’s privacy preserving attribution framework,” explained Camden. “SKAN lets marketers know what campaigns are working or not, while respecting a user’s wishes for privacy when they’re not opted in to App Tracking Transparency.” 

Such a framework is necessitated by the existence of the ATT. It allows marketers to obtain relevant data from users that have chosen to opt out of ad tracking, leaving their identifiers blank which disables the ability to connect their behaviour across apps owned by different developers.   

The relevance of SKAdNetwork wasn’t lost on InMobi – in fact, as Camden pointed out, the company was very quick to jump onboard following the launch of ATT. “We really read the tea leaves, that the privacy-first future is where this industry is headed, and to deny that reality was only going to be to the detriment of our clients and partners in the end,” she said.  

“The expertise that we have has really been paying off in spades. A lot of very large, sophisticated iOS app advertisers have been very forthcoming with us that ‘you are our only partner that has been able to scale with SKAN against our KPIs cost-effectively’. So, it’s really good validation.” 

If SKAN is so important, why aren’t all ad tech companies jumping on board? Since SKAN only applies to Apple users, iOS might not be a priority for some advertisers due to low market penetration in the key geographies they target. Android tends to be dominant in developing nations while the balance between iOS and Android users in the US sits at around 50/50, and in Australia it tends to weigh just slightly more in favour of Android.  

Additionally, the technical complexity of SKAN has made it difficult for advertisers to jump on board, and the availability of non-deterministic alternatives for attribution tracking, also known as fingerprinting, likely complicates things. 

Nonetheless, there’s still plenty to be gained from adapting to SKAN, and the enhancements coming in SKAN 4.0 unlock meaningful new features and reduced complexity. The global audience of high-value iOS users is too big to ignore, and alternative methods for measuring campaign efficacy are not privacy-safe or sustainable. Though Apple has yet to enforce harsh penalties, they have made it very clear that fingerprinting violates their developer policies, and continuing this practice is an unnecessary risk.   

Additionally, with Android Privacy Sandbox due to roll out in ‘24, advertisers who have already embraced SKAN on the iOS side will be in the best position to quickly adapt to Google’s changes as well. To help further explain, Richard O’Sullivan highlighted the future prospects of SKAN. “I think it’ll be critical going into the future, as far as we can see out on the horizon. Buyers like more choice, and one of the real silver linings of SKAdNetwork is that it levels the playing field for media partners large and small, from an attribution standpoint. 

“Large walled garden media partners have been known to grade their own homework, doing a lot of measurement analysis internally so advertisers only see their scrubbed-up version of the numbers, not the raw data. But with SKAdNetwork, Apple will provide a copy of the raw data directly to the advertiser.” 

Given the imminent release of SKAN 4.0, the time is ripe to start getting involved, and InMobi has plans in place to get on top of the changes quickly. The tech platform works closely with a number of app growth advertisers, supply-side and mobile measurement partners to rapidly test each SKAN enhancement and roll out new updates to its offerings. 

SKAN 4.0 Is Set to Impact Your Mobile Marketing – Here’s How InMobi Plans to Help 

Image: How SKAN works with DSPs 

 

Image: Attribution and postback windows 

InMobi bet big on SKAN from its very earliest days, and this first-mover advantage is really paying off for their clients.   InMobi correctly read the tea leaves, and now lays claim to the title of market leaders for driving iOS app performance campaigns using SKAN.  

Image: SKAN postback based reporting and optimizations on InMobi DSP 

O’Sullivan concluded: “There’s a lot to be optimistic about. Marketers and publishers should really be on high alert for SKAN 4.0, which is still expected to be rolled out later this year. It’s going to have a lot of notable changes that will help iOS campaigns perform even better, so it’s important to align yourself with the right partners that will really help you accelerate and ramp up quickly with those new features that are coming.” 

Glossary: 

SKAN – Also known as SKAdNetwork, this is the iOS format for providing privacy-safe campaign attribution data to advertisers. 

ATT – Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. Allows users to opt in or out of allowing apps to track their activity across apps and websites owned by other publisher. 




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