Product Updates

iOS 14, IDFA, SKAdNetwork: What Does It Mean For You?

6 Minute Read |



With Apple’s recent announcement that iOS 14 privacy changes are fast approaching, we wanted to share a quick refresher on IDFA, SKAdNetwork, and what it all means for you. Plus, how Smaato can help make sure you’re prepared.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • A refresher on Apple’s privacy policies, and how they impact publishers and marketers
  • An overview of SKAdNetwork – and how it hints at the future of advertising
  • How Smaato can help you stay future-proof using NextGen SDK

A Quick Refresher

On June 24, at the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced changes to its AppStore privacy guidelines. These changes require publishers to provide information about their own privacy practices and those of any third-party code (including, but not limited to, advertising or analytics SDKs) in App Store Connect.In addition to this policy change, Apple also requires publishers to use a new framework introduced with iOS 14 — AppTrackingTransparency — to receive permission for tracking users and to access the device’s advertising identifier.

In short? Tracking is going from the default to something users must choose to opt into.

IDFA, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers, provides a unique ID tag for devices, to enable ad tracking. AppTrackingTransparency now requires permission to access the IDFA.

Apple mentions specific examples for what it has identified as “tracking” under these policies. For example:

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in your app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies.
  • Sharing a list of emails (or hashed emails), advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to retarget those users in other developers’ apps or to find similar users.

Apple’s message is clear: Any kind of identity-based tracking with the intent to identify users across applications will require an explicit opt-in using the AppTrackingTransparency.

IDFA Compliance

So What?

Historically, publishers have leveraged user identifiers like the IDFA to drive higher eCPMs through well-targeted ads. IDFAs also allow marketers to execute effective campaign targeting, retargeting, and attribution. Apple’s new requirements are expected to result in significant change: a projected 80% at least will not opt in to this tracking.Apple’s new guidelines and end-user privacy focus has an undeniable effect on the ad industry – but savvy publishers and marketers can adapt to limit the impact.

At Smaato, we believe that giving users control over their privacy is paramount. While these changes can have some ripple effects in the short term, we have solutions for publishers and marketers to ensure minimal impact, while respecting and honoring user choice.

80% opt out predicted

What is SKAdNetwork?

SKAdNetwork is a framework developed by Apple to measure the conversion rates of app installs. This framework uncouples the impression event from the actual app installation, removing the need for user identifiers.

SKAdNetwork operates through an end-to-end attribution flow that is controlled by the App Store and validates each attribution with a cryptographic signature assigned to the ad when provided by the advertiser.

Simply put, SKAdNetwork provides a way for marketers to measure the success of their campaigns, while protecting end-user privacy. SKAdNetwork offers a clear, compliant alternative to IDFA-based attributions.

At Smaato, we support SKAdNetwork versions 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2.

Smaato SKAdNetwork Attribution Workflow
Note: Publishers may see fluctuations in revenue as marketer’s bidding algorithms adjust to the SKAdNetwork attribution flow. This is temporary.

How Can Smaato Help?

We are committed to equipping our publishers with the controls needed to own their monetization strategy.

The Smaato Digital Ad Tech Platform delivers powerful tools to help create a positive user experience without compromising privacy. Contextual targeting, for example, can help marketers reach highly engaged audiences and enables publishers to deliver a relevant experience. And, reaching audiences based on what content they’re consuming, rather than who they are, respects privacy choices. We are continuing our investment in this area and are working closely with our partners to re-invent contextual advertising for a digital, screen-agnostic future.

Smaato also fully supports SKAdNetwork as part of our continued goal to supply the best-available tools for our publishers and advertising partners. SKAdNetwork is a valuable advertising tool. It offers stability for user acquisition and helps ensure successful ad campaigns, while honoring end-user privacy.

NextGen SDK 21.6.17

For Publishers

To guarantee iOS 14 compatibility, Smaato released a new version of its iOS SDK – NextGen SDK in September, 2020. Version 21.6.6 comes with complete iOS 14 and SKAdNetwork support, we recommend you update to the most current version, 21.6.17.

  • Our iOS SDK will not ask for tracking opt-in. We believe this important prompt should be entirely under the publisher’s control. We also recommend that publishers create messaging around the pop up, to highlight the value for users and encourage opt-in.
    • For example, you can create a branded screen with messaging like: Our app collects user information in order to give you a relevant, personalized experience. Is it okay if we collect this information?
    • You can even share specific features of your app which will deliver customized functionality for your users if they opt-in.
  • Our iOS SDK will support running and showing SKAdNetwork-enabled ads. Please note: SKAdNetwork requires publishers to list supported ad networks in their info.plist.
    • Please find the list of IDs required by Smaato here.
  • Publishers can rely on us to handle SKAdNetwork-enabled ads without additional code changes.

Publishers should note that in order to continue successfully monetizing under iOS 14, updating to NextGen SDK Version 21.6.6+ and including the SKAdNetwork IDs in the info.plist is required.

In addition to these code-level changes, we also provide best practices on how and when to ask for tracking opt-in. We’ll also provide publishers with a list of SKAdNetwork IDs to implement in their apps’ Info.plist.

Publishers and app developers can access further guidance documentation in the Smaato’s Developer Docs.

For Marketers

For our marketing partners, in order to ensure compliance and successful bidding, please register for SKAdNetwork with Apple. Apple will provide your unique SKAdNetwork ID, and once you share that with us, we will add it to the plist for publishers to implement. That’s it!

You’ll gain accurate, completely fraud-free click-through attribution for app-install campaigns. Campaign IDs from installed apps will be shared by Apple, along with a conversion value used to validate the acquisition quality. You’ll also gain confidence in accurate and successful install information.

Apple will also share re-download information with marketers, providing invaluable retargeting insights. Following a user download, Apple shares postback notifications on a 24-48 hour delay.

Note: For SKAdNetwork versions 2.0 and 2.1, Smaato offers click through attributions. In SKAdNetwork version 2.2 and above, we offer both click through and view through (impression) attribution.

Marketers, Learn more about what OpenRTB changes to expect in the Bid Request.

Frequency Capping with Smaato

At Smaato, we have a solution to ensure successful, compliant frequency capping. We utilize a 24-hour frequency capping ID that refreshes daily and allows a non-persistent revolving identifier which is not connected to a user device. This allows us and our marketing partners to implement effective frequency capping across all ad campaigns, while maintaining complete compliance with iOS 14, and respecting user privacy preferences.

Want to learn more? Check out our white paper, Maintaining Compliance with iOS 14 .

Read On


Our expert team is here to support and collaborate with our partners. Have questions about how we can help you prepare for Apple’s privacy rules enforcement? Or, want to learn more about our Digital Ad Tech platform?

Get in Touch

1 Mobile Dev Memo, June 2020

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