From privacy thresholds to crowd anonymity, plus much more SKAN 4 help: Singular’s Eran Friedman on AdBites

By John Koetsier October 25, 2023

Singular CTO Eran Friedman spent some time with Redbox CTO Samual Chorlton on the AdBites podcast. The topic: everything SKAdNetwork, especially SKAN 4 help for those working on a transition from SKAN 3.

Hit play to watch it now, and keep scrolling for some of the highlights …

Data return to advertisers: from SKAN 3 to SKAN 4 help

SKAN 4 help is coming.

In SKAN 3, as we know, Apple provided privacy thresholds to anonymize users. Low volumes of conversions from a campaign results in few or no conversion values. That works, but it punishes smaller advertisers, reducing the feedback they receive from their ad campaigns and lowering their trust in ROI and ROAS numbers.

In SKAN 4, privacy thresholds become crowd anonymity.

SKAN 4 crowd anonymity

“The idea is for anyone to be able to use SKAN. If you’re just beginning, you have barely a budget, you’re just testing things, you’re going to get some limited information, but not too much,” Friedman says. “But as you scale and you need to become more advanced, you’ll get more and more granular information for optimizations.”

Under SKAN 4, just 15 installs per campaign will start to give advertisers at least some data: at least a coarse conversion value: low, medium, or high. It’s not much, but at least it’s some signal to start calibrating and optimizing.

SKAN 4 crowd anonymity and source identifier

If that provides confidence to boost your ad spend, you’ll get more conversion values and will not just get coarse but fine values: 64 potential values. Increase scale even more, and you’ll get source identifiers, providing more detailed data you can use to tag campaigns, geos, or ad placements. And that tagging informs campaign optimization and improvement: getting more of what you want.

SKAN 4 help: defining terms in SKAN

One of the more challenging parts of SKAN in general is learning the language. That’s especially true for people who are new to mobile marketing, but it’s also the case for veterans of the industry, because many of the terms are new, or used in different ways.

So Friedman defined the terms for the AdBites audience:

Conversion values

A number that you choose that represents the value of a user. When SKAdNetwork encodes that number into a postback, and your MMP decodes it for you, you get clues about the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Coarse conversion values

Low-volume campaigns like those we just talked about can only have coarse conversion values: 3 potential values like low, medium, or high to represent user value, and therefore campaign effectiveness.

Fine conversion values

When campaign volume is high, SKAN 4 permits more data to be encoded into conversion values: not just the 3 possible values of coarse conversion values, but the same 64 possible values that were available in SKAN 3.

(Note: in SKAN 4, you can only get a fine conversion value for the first postback. The second 2 postbacks are always going to be coarse conversion values.)

Source identifier

In SKAN 4, the source identifier is additional data you can get from your campaigns. Like conversion values, it is connected to crowd anonymity: high volume supplies more potential data than low volume.

SKAN 4 conversion values

If you achieve high crowd anonymity, your source identifiers will be 4-digit numbers that you can encode with data about your campaigns, geos targeted, ad sets used, ad placements, and more.

What an MMP does for you under SKAN

When SKAN first came out, some thought it meant there would be no need for MMPs anymore. After all, SKAdNetwork can send postbacks right back to advertisers themselves, potentially short-circuiting the need for independent results measurement.

Complexity turned out to be one of the core challenges. Plus the ability to be able to interpret advertiser models for ad networks so they could optimize based on known good results.

That’s one of the core reasons SKAN 4 help is so desperately needed.

“This is where we believe it’s the perfect kind of world for MMPs to provide the technology and management of all the SKAdNetwork framework: basically using the APIs, managing those conversion values, getting back those postbacks, and essentially trying to abstract all those technical terms and details so the advertiser doesn’t even need to think in terms of those encoded numbers and all the details, and they just get kind of the bottom line,” Friedman says.

That means campaigns, installs, dollars, registrations: human terms.

Plus, given the privacy-centric obfuscation of SKAdNetwork, including randomness Apple adds to the numbers, being able to use Singular’s AI-driven modeling in SKAN Advanced Analytics restores missing data in marketing measurement while not impacting user privacy.

SKAN 4 adoption: yet to scale

One other topic the two hit on the podcast: SKAN 4 adoption, which is lagging right now for many ad networks and especially the big platforms.

“I think all of them for sure are working to upgrade to SKAN 4,” says Friedman. “Some of them have, for example, started beta testing SKAN 4 and have selected advertisers that are already working with and running SKAN 4 campaigns. Others have done full launches and we already see most of their traffic has arrived to SKAN 4 … it’s on a network by network level.”

The timelines I’ve heard most industry experts mention are in the Q1 2024 range. More on that, likely, in a future Singular blog post, but the key point is that if you’re needing SKAN 4 help, you still have some time.

Looking for guidance on your SKAN 4 transition?

Watch the video above, but also go check out our SKAN 4 transition guide here. It will give you all the details you need to get started.

Once you’ve kicked that off, book a session with a Singular expert to go through your planned implementation, and how Singular can help make it all much, much easier.

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