SKAN 4.0: What You Need to Know -

SKAN 4.0: What You Need to Know


The release of SKAdNetwork 4.0 has brought significant updates to the mobile advertising industry that may take some time and effort to adopt. Let’s first look at SKAN and then observe SKAN 4.0’s essential updates and their benefits!

What’s SKAN (SKAdnetwork)?

SKAdNetwork (SKAN) is a privacy-preserving framework for mobile app install attribution that Apple introduced in 2018. SKAdNetwork is designed to protect user privacy by providing aggregated data to advertisers and publishers while preventing the sharing of individual user data.

SKAdNetwork uses an API to allow ad networks and publishers to register with the SKAdNetwork and generate unique identifiers to track app installs. When a user clicks on an ad and installs the app, the SKAdNetwork sends a postback to the ad network or publisher with the attribution data.

This attribution data includes the campaign ID, the creative ID, the app ID, and the conversion value, which can be used to measure the ad campaign’s success.

The SKAdNetwork framework was introduced in response to growing concerns about user privacy and data collection. It provides a more secure and privacy-friendly alternative to traditional mobile app install attribution methods, such as device IDs or cookies, which can potentially be used to track individual users across multiple apps and services.

SKAdNetwork has become increasingly important for mobile app advertisers and publishers, as Apple’s iOS 14 update requires apps to use the SKAdNetwork for attribution and limits other tracking methods. This means advertisers and publishers must use SKAdNetwork to accurately track their campaigns and measure their performance on iOS devices.

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The 4 Key Updates in SKAN 4.0 & Their Benefits

SKAN 4.0, an update to the network, was released on October 24th, 2022, and has brought many vital updates that present new options for ad networks and app developers. It’s true that with the updates came to some confusion around how to use them effectively, but ad networks and advertisers are working on creating a plan to utilize the new features. 

→Multiple postbacks: Unlike SKAN 3, which only had one postback, SKAN 4.0 offers three postbacks spread over time (up to 35 days). This structure provides more extensive insights to app developers about user activity and drops null rates.

Postback 1: 0-2 days

Postback 2: 3-7 days

Postback 3: 8-35 days

Overall, the multiple postback system gives advertisers a broader perspective on their users’ engagement, enabling them to craft better optimization and reporting plans. 

→Locking conversion values: With SKAN 4.0 comes a new concept called ‘lockWindow.’ This allows app developers to lock conversion values (stopping the measurement of user activity) and receive the postback as soon as possible. With this, you can:

  • Adjust the postback windows mentioned above
  • Receive postbacks sooner
  • Optimize your campaigns accordingly.

→Privacy thresholds out, crowd anonymity and source identifier are in: SKAN 4.0 removes the privacy thresholds of SKAN 3, giving marketers more data in their postbacks. Before SKAN 4.0, you would receive a null postback from users who didn’t meet the privacy threshold. With SKAN 4.0, the privacy threshold is now divided into four tiers of crowd anonymity (0, 1, 2, and 3), which Apple assigns to each install. Crowd anonymity helps determine how much data is returned from SKAdNetwork. It replaces the campaign ID with a source identifier, and a full postback may drop one or more of the following fields based on the tier the install is assigned: Fine-grain conversion value, source ID, and source app ID.

In SKAN 3, campaign IDs were limited to 2 digits; now, source identifiers can contain up to four digits. According to insights from AppsFlyer, this update can be used for internal optimization and other reporting breakdown based on what the advertiser needs. 

→Support for Web Conversion Value: With SKAdNetwork 4.0, web-to-app measurement is now enabled for advertisers. Though only available for Safari, it’s known that almost 90% of iPhone users choose Safari as their default web browser, so the coverage is essential. With the update, it’s now possible to attribute web advertising that directs users to the product’s App Store page, allowing advertisers to practice cross-channel attribution. 

How to adjust to the transition?

For app owners, it’s crucial to understand what SKAN 4.0 means for your product’s growth. Knowing what factors are vital for you and when to measure them is also significant. Though it may take a while to align with the new updates fully and craft a mobile marketing strategy accordingly,, you can start planning how to make the most out of SKAN 4.0 in terms of measuring performance.  So, ask yourself these questions:

  • What data do I need from the three postbacks?
  • How fresh do I want my data to be for optimization purposes? (using lockWindow)
  • How can I optimize the measurement for each postback?

As for now, ad networks and publishers are the ones who need to make the change to allow you to leverage the SKAN 4.0 updates. Another point is that more users need to update their mobile devices to iOS 16.1 and above so that ad networks can feel comfortable moving their traffic to SKAN 4.0. This will be a gradual process in which you must stay updated with the latest developments. 

Adjusting iOS strategies based on SKAN updates can be challenging occasionally, but it’s important to note that the mobile industry is dynamic. Challenges bear new opportunities too! 


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Umay Özde

Content Marketing Specialist

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