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April 05, 2023
6 min read

SKAdNetwork 4.0 for subscription apps

SKAdNetwork 4.0 is the latest version of the Apple SKAdNetwork framework, which is designed to provide app attribution data to advertisers while also preserving user privacy.

SKAdNetwork 4.0 for subscription apps

SKAdNetwork 4.0 was introduced in March 2022, and it includes several new features and improvements for app user acquisition over previous versions of the framework making it particularly beneficial for subscription apps.

Coarse Conversion Value in SKAdNetwork 4.0

One of the key improvements is support for coarse-grain conversion values. This allows you to map events or revenue to low, medium, or high values while keeping user privacy. You will not know the exact conversion value, but it is better than "null". Postback may now contain either a fine-grain conversion value, coarse-grain conversion value, or "null" based on the privacy thresholds set by Apple. The developer must provide coarse and fine conversion values in a new method:

updatePostbackConversionValue(_: coarseValue: completionHandler: )

Multiple Postbacks

Another key improvement that is designed specifically for subscription apps is support for up to 3 postbacks. Here's how they work:

  • The first postback has now increased the conversion window from 24 to 48 hours. It may return fine-grain, coarse-grain, or null conversion values.
  • The second postback measures user activity from days 3 to 7. This allows measuring successful free trial conversions. Of course, if the advertised app is launched during this time frame. Only the coarse-grain or "null" conversion value is returned in the second postback.
  • The third postback's conversion window spans days 8 to 35. Just like the second postback, the third one may contain only a coarse-grain or "null" conversion value.

Lock Conversion Value

Developers can use the updatePostbackConversionValue(_:coarseValue:lockWindow:completionHandler:) method to receive postbacks sooner. This method allows you to lock and confirm a conversion value before the end of the conversion window. You can select to lock the conversion value in any or all conversion windows. In the diagram below, you can see an example of an app that locks the conversion value during the second conversion window:

App locks the conversion value during the second conversion windowApp locks the conversion value during the second conversion window

Once the system receives a locked conversion value, it immediately prepares the postback and disregards any subsequent updates to the conversion value within the same conversion window. The postbacks are then sent after a random delay, which is 24-48 hours for the first postback and 24-144 hours for the second and third postbacks, following the locked conversion. The system continues to ignore any further conversion value updates for the remaining time in the same conversion window. In SKAN 4.0, an app can finalize the conversion value by locking it, and the device will send the postback after a random delay of 24-48 hours.

Hierarchical Source Identifiers

The Hierarchical source ID, formerly referred to as the campaign ID field, enables advertisers to attribute installs to campaign ads and other attribution information. Advertisers can customize this four-digit value based on their objectives, such as campaign values, ad placement, or type of ad creative.

The postback always contains a minimum of two digits in this field, but up to four digits can be included depending on the number of installs and the privacy level achieved by the campaign ads. This feature gives advertisers more flexibility in their mobile app campaigns and provides them with additional attribution data when privacy thresholds are met. Most importantly, user privacy is safeguarded across apps.

Web-to-App Attribution

The SKAdNetwork for Web Ads API empowers advertisers to evaluate the effectiveness of ad campaigns originating on the web, all while preserving user privacy. Beginning with iOS 16.1, ad networks can leverage this API to obtain SKAdNetwork attributions for web ad clicks in Safari that result in App Store app installations.

How Apphud Can Help You with SKAdNetwork 4.0

As mentioned previously, a developer can initiate up to three postbacks during three conversion windows. Use Apphud SDK in your subscription app to determine the current subscription status and update the conversion value depending on it. As an example, you may use status, isInRetryBilling and autorenewEnabled properties of ApphudSubscription object to update conversion value as follows:

  • If a free trial is still not canceled at least 1 hour after purchase (autorenewEnabledis true), increase a conversion value by 1 point.
  • For a successful free trial conversion (status is regular) increase a conversion value by 2 points.
  • In case of a billing issue, if the status is grace or if isInRetryBillingis true, increase a conversion value by 1 point.
  • Lock the value if the user canceled auto-renewal, i.e.autorenewEnabledis false.
  • Do not increase the conversion value if the subscription status is expired or refunded.

At Apphud, we understand the importance of campaign performance analytics in driving app revenue growth. Therefore, we prioritize data accuracy. Our platform delivers the most precise app revenue data to enable you to formulate growth strategies. Get started with Apphud today!

Co-founder at Apphud
Ex iOS app and game developer. 11 years in the industry since iOS 3. More than 50 apps are in the background with 4 exits. Entrepreneur and traveler.

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