- 6 mins read

Diversifying User Acquisition strategy in the post-iOS-14 world: Tried and true tips from Stanislav Rybachuk

By Stanislav Rybachuk, Snapchat & TikTok Performance Lead, Httpool

In a time when digital marketers find themselves increasingly restricted by privacy-focused initiatives and frameworks, here are a few key tactics for maximizing app advertising performance.

The combination of SKAdNetwork, a privacy-centric API operated by Apple, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created turbulence in the digital marketing industry, and there’s no end in sight. Advertisers must understand that a user privacy-centric approach is here to stay and that it will continue impacting both App and Web advertising funnels.

While privacy-centric transitions are still in progress, advertisers can already take several important steps to improve their campaign performance, such as:

  • Using system-specific SDKs (Software Development Kits) since they will be adapted faster
  • Enriching data by integrating CAPI (Conversion API)
  • Considering One link as a potential solution when working with the MMP (Mobile Measurement Partner)
  • Introducing Web2App flow for your app

Business implications of privacy-protecting frameworks

There are a growing number of organizations and legislative initiatives – the most prominent being GDPR and the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) – specifically focused on addressing user privacy issues. Apple’s iOS 14+ is the most comprehensive privacy-protecting framework to-date and has made it significantly harder for advertisers to track user behavior for both app and web products.

Other privacy-protecting initiatives include changes to browser technology planned or already executed by Firefox, Safari, and Chrome, including the growing usage of ad blockers and cookie depreciation.

Business implications from these changes include:

  • Slower data collection and decision making
  • Slower ad network machine learning
  • Less data for marketing investment decisions
  • Less reliable modeling & projected lifetime value estimations
  • Limited influence on short-term ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend)

All these implications pose issues for marketers globally, so let’s dig deeper into what has changed.

Changes to app & web user-level data tracking

The current major issues marketers are facing worldwide start with a simple popup on a user’s iPhone; it a visual representation of the new ATT (App Tracking Transparency) framework.

As many as 75% of users ask the apps not to track their activity, thereby opting out of sharing their data with advertisers.

If the user chooses to opt-in, however, the process stays the same and servers share data by directly communicating with each other. Once a user opts out, data is limited, aggregated, and delayed, making it almost impossible to track individual user-level data.

“Marketing used to work like a toast where the bread represented the servers that communicated with each other, and the cheese on top was the additional layer of MMP and your SDK performing attribution work for you. Right now, we have a cheese sandwich with an additional layer of bread – SKAdNetwork controlling which data can go through, making it difficult for advertisers to understand which person performed which specific action.”

Additionally, intentional technological delays prohibit reverse-engineering data to obtain user-level results. Instead, all user-level data is aggregated in bulk, delayed in time, and intentionally obscured so that advertisers cannot track it, but platforms can still use the aggregated data for campaign optimization.

Web and app campaigns face similar challenges, with the same underlying logic but different technicalities. Although these technical barriers make it challenging to drive the desired business results, your systems can be adjusted to ensure they make the most of the new order.

Adjusting to the new order

In order to maintain high-performing marketing campaigns, advertisers need to keep up with these changes as best they can. Here are a few technical ways you can optimize your marketing campaigns – from basic tweaks to advanced, systemic changes.

Mobile app funnel:

  • Update privacy policy in App Store Connect
  • If in use, update your SDKs
  • Map your Conversion Value
  • Become familiar with platform-specific rules
  • Use platform-specific SDKs whenever possible
  • Consider One link as a potential solution when working with the MMP
  • Consider developing a Web2App solution

Mobile web funnel:

  • Become familiar with platform-specific rules
  • Account for different attribution and retargeting
  • Prioritize your events
  • Integrate CAPI

While the regulations are more strictly developed for the Mobile funnel, the Web funnel is also in the middle of a transformation. The most effective action you can take right now in terms of the web funnel is integrating copy or web conversion API, which directly links servers together.

Take Facebook for example. Instead of making the browser do all the hard work of attribution and tracking events, you can impose your servers by linking them directly. When a user clicks on your Facebook ad, the specific Facebook click ID is transferred to your server which in turn uses this data to build knowledge about the user.

Taken together, all of these data points can be used to improve your data reliability (which is called Event Match Quality on Facebook). Your server is lining up all the events performed by the user, like logging in or purchasing something and sending it back to Facebook. This gives you 20-50% more events that were not tracked by Facebook pixel and is the closest you can get to pre-ATT data.

Web 2 App solution – a way around SKAdNetwork?

Use conversion API to blend your App campaigns with your Web campaigns. Take the maximum CPA (cost per action) that you’re willing to spend on a given platform and try to increase the value it adds to the system.

Let’s imagine it as an auction – if you’re campaigning to the same kind of app advertisers with pretty much the same maximum CPA of 20 dollars, you won’t lose the auction, but you won’t win very often either. If we move this to a web auction where e-commerce clients usually are, suddenly your 20 dollars become far more valuable than the average e-com check of five to ten dollars. This way you win more bids, get more valued users and you receive more attention from the system, meaning that it’s easier to scale the business.

This is how the process looks on the Facebook app:

While the case in question seems pretty difficult, the whole flow ensures that you can circumvent the SKAdNetwork – in a way – even if you’re doing the app campaigns and you’re willing to get similar results. With a little bit of patience, you’ll have enough data to optimize your campaigns with.

Good luck testing and implementing these tactics!

Watch the full presentation delivered during the GoGlobal event here.