What is Apple’s SKAN and why is SKAN 4.0 an improvement ?

This article recaps our understanding of SKAN and the improvements SKAN 4.0 brought to advertiser tracking and attribution on iOS.

SKAdNetwork (SKAN) is a framework developed by Apple that allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns on the App Store without compromising user privacy. SKAN is effectively a privacy-preserving attribution method that aims to protect users’ personal information and to limit the amount of data that is shared with advertisers.

With SKAN, advertisers can receive information about app installs and other post-install events without accessing users’ personal data, such as their names, email addresses, or other identifying information. Instead, SKAN relies on a limited set of data points that are aggregated and anonymized to provide insights into ad performance.

Early SKAN has helped advertisers track performance in 3 main ways:

  1. Privacy protection: SKAN allows advertisers to measure their ad campaigns without accessing users’ personal data, which helps protect user privacy.
  2. Transparency: SKAN provides advertisers with transparency into their ad performance by allowing them to see how many app installs and post-install events can be attributed to their ads.
  3. Ad optimization: SKAN allows advertisers to optimize their ad campaigns based on the performance data they receive, which can help them improve their return on ad spend.

However SKAdNetwork (SKAN) 4.0 is an updated version of the SKAN framework released in Oct 2022 during the launch of iOS 16. Compared to previous versions, SKAN 4 has led to several noticeable tracking improvements for advertisers including:

  1. Expanded attribution windows: SKAN 4 offers longer attribution windows for app installs and post-install events, which can help advertisers better understand the impact of their ad campaigns over time.
  2. More post-install events: SKAN 4 allows for more post-install events to be tracked, providing advertisers with greater visibility into user behavior after they install an app.
  3. View-through attribution: SKAN 4 introduces view-through attribution, which allows advertisers to measure the impact of video ads that users view but do not click on. This can help advertisers better understand the effectiveness of their video ads.
  4. Multi-network attribution: SKAN 4 enables multi-network attribution, which allows advertisers to attribute app installs and post-install events across multiple ad networks. This can help advertisers get a more complete picture of their ad campaign performance.
  5. Incrementality measurement: SKAN 4 includes support for incrementality measurement, which allows advertisers to measure the incremental impact of their ad campaigns. This can help advertisers optimize their ad spend by identifying which campaigns are driving the most incremental value.

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