This past year was challenging on so many levels and filled with constant doubt that each of us felt at both a personal and professional level. Apple certainly didn’t make things easy on us. Indeed, this was the year that Apple decided to challenge all of us in the mobile advertising space and by leading a significant change in the attribution landscape with the release of SKAdNetwork attribution.
Still today, I do not have all the answers on how this change is going to be standardized in the future and the true impact it will have on developers from the smallest to the largest. However, to me it really is an eye opener and appears as a unique opportunity to track and attribute advertising data via incrementality to arrive at a holistic view. In this article, I share my own experience with iOS14 and how excited I am to shift from last touch to incrementality.
SKAN’s challenges including dealing with only 100 campaign IDs
When Apple announced the 100 campaign limitation, it made me anxious. It meant a limitation in deterministic data but also in the number of campaigns a marketer is able to run. So what was I going to do? No more experimentation? My first thought was “what is my job going to look like and how will I still enjoy doing user acquisition?
To me, the restriction in the number of campaigns was really perceived long term as a threat to my UA manager position. Indeed, fewer campaigns meant less fun. It also meant fewer ways to experiment and challenge my thinking, fewer ways to find new pockets of growth, fewer ways to extend my media mix, fewer ways to easily optimise on the next crazy event designed by data science, and fewer ways to get direct feedback from the market without a timer.
This left me with the strange and disconcerting feeling that the advertising platform did not need UA managers anymore in order to set up a AAA campaign without targeting or anything similar as everything was now heavily simplified and restricted.
SKAN does NOT offer a way to cohort KPIs by install date
However, what I got from this situation was that SKAN attribution was the new rule and I was interested in the new areas that Apple wanted to innovate in. I was really keen to have that information, but for a year, it was really difficult to get a clear and comprehensive explanation from Apple. Apple made several announcements during the WWDC and each time I remember that my UA manager friends and I were really nervous about these because we did not know how things would pan out. After a year, we finally saw the first shape of SKAN and ran the first test on it.
For now, the SKAN solution has not met all of my expectations. Apple did a lot of back and forth that led in a year to the delivery of a disappointing SKAN attribution model, not at the level of the privacy promised but also disappointing from a market overview. A lot of simple things like offering daily KPIS by install date is currently really complicated with SKAN. All data is aggregated, the timer is super long and the sample size in order to receive installs postback data is still unclear to me.
Funny enough, it made me happy that it was not perfect because it created opportunities for other smart companies to fill these gaps and they certainly did! I was happy that this complicated attribution was the real opportunity I was waiting for to push mobile companies to consider holistic marketing via incrementality and finally empower creativity in advertising!
Critical KPIs have been replaced by a single conversion value with its own significant limitation
Because advertisers were unhappy about the iOS14 change and all the limitations that it imposed by following only a single conversion value, I saw advertisers start to be resilient, to evolve and to innovate. People finally stepped outside of their comfort zones and challenged the status quo. The forgotten topics of creative and incrementality became the new topics everyone is now excited about to refashion their growth!
I saw incredible growth masterminds and leaders that I deeply respect lead conferences about this topic, share resources to the entire market and open the doors to understanding incrementality. All of these people truly inspired me as a young UA manager. I could only imagine the struggle they endured everyday to explain to their high level management the change that they were implementing. At the same time, they also inspired other companies to help lead the change.