Learn about iOS 14 and how it affects your integrations with Singular.
Update [January 27, 2021]: Apple has announced that App Tracking Transparency will be required starting with iOS 14.5. This article has been updated with Singular's recommendations and changes.
What's new in iOS 14?
On June 22, Apple held its annual WWDC event to announce iOS 14, the next major OS update to iOS. The list of updates included two announcements that impact iOS digital advertising:
Read our blog post detailing the changes.
These changes mean that device IDFAs will be available less frequently and are therefore less reliable for creating a complete picture of marketing performance. The expected result is that advertisers shift towards Apple’s SKAdNetwork alternative for measurement and marketing analytics.
On September 3, Apple announced another update delaying certain privacy features originally planned for iOS 14.0 until "early next year." Specifically, the IDFA will continue to be default available without asking for AppTrackingTransparency consent, but the intended changes are still coming in a few months. Read more about the September 3rd update and the technical changes in our blog post.
Is probabilistic matching going away? What attribution methods will be supported with iOS 14?
Based on our conversations with Apple and reinforced by their latest updates on requirements, Apple has taken a stance prohibiting probabilistic attribution without consent. The below matrix represents what Singular interprets as allowed attribution methods that are compliant with Apple's privacy policies:
What happens with Singular attribution once iOS 14.5 is released?
In order to protect advertisers and partners with the updated privacy policies, Singular will, by default, disable probabilistic matching for iOS 14 and above once iOS 14.5 is released and App Tracking Transparency is enforceable. As a technology provider, Singular is committed to helping our advertisers and partners stay compliant with Apple policies.
What if mutual partners and advertisers are not ready to or cannot rely on SKAdNetwork right now?
We recognize there are still scenarios in which App Tracking Transparency allows for probabilistic attribution methods, and the available SKAdNetwork traffic needs time to grow once iOS 14.5 is released and ATT is enforced. Therefore Singular supports controls that will allow advertisers to enable probabilistic attribution methods with select partners according to their interpretation of Apple's privacy policies and/or their short-term business decisions as they work towards being privacy compliant.
As a partner who may be impacted by Apple's policies, what should I do?
We encourage discussions with your advertisers, and to read about specific changes you can make to clicks and impression data sent to Singular based on the advertiser's business plans. Alongside changes to traditional click-based and impression-based attribution, we strongly recommend partners integrate with SKAdNetwork.
How do the new policies impact Singular and Singular's advertisers?
iOS 14 represents a fundamental shift in how advertisers measure digital marketing on iOS devices. We expect to see fewer deterministic attributions and more probabilistic ones. In the longer term, we wait to see Apple's guidelines for how probabilistic matching will be phased away.
However, Singular is working closely with advertisers and partners to prepare for that longer-term outcome.
As an MMP, Singular’s responsibilities remain the same:
- Help marketers reach their strategic goals through measurement and reporting.
- Help them navigate through the additional challenges brought on by iOS 14.
- Continue to fight fraud as new marketing tools and solutions are introduced (such as SKAdNetwork).
With the rollout of iOS 14, Singular is working with advertisers to:
- Update their apps' SDK and S2S integrations to be iOS 14 compliant.
- Adjust marketing strategies and help understand how advertisers' marketing channels may be impacted.
- Work with partners to prepare for iOS 14 by updating existing integrations as needed and push partners to adopt a SKAdNetwork integration with Singular.
I send clicks and impressions to Singular. What do I have to prepare for?
As an ad network or DSP, you are probably already working with your publishers and exchanges to understand how to adhere to the App Tracking Transparency guidelines and to maximize the availability of IDFAs in Singular tracking links.
If you're sending Singular clicks and impressions for a mutual advertiser, note that IDFA and probabilistic attributions will be updated to the following, effective with the release of iOS 14.5 and applying to all iOS 14 and above users unless you discuss and prepare to handle measurement differently in the short-term based on advertiser's business decisions:
Singular will continue to attribute using IDFAs matched between a touchpoint and install if App Tracking Transparency consent is given in both the publisher and advertiser app. This scenario applies to partners that support mobile-app inventory aka. app-to-app campaigns. Clicks and impressions should continue to be sent with IDFA when available, no additional change is needed.
- Singular will no longer probabilistically attribute users by default unless allowed by the advertiser through additional controls.
Note: Action is required if you are a partner that relies on probabilistic attribution.
- You should review what you can do in preparation for iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency enforcement. Continue reading about how to update and prepare for these changes, and review the new link parameters below required to support probabilistic attribution. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, or email@example.com to implement any changes to your integration.
I am an integrated partner relying on probabilistic attribution today. What do I have to prepare for?
Apple's app tracking transparency and "user privacy and data use" guidelines are clear that probabilistic attribution without ATT consent is not allowed for app-to-app marketing and advertising. Therefore, starting with the release of iOS 14.5, probabilistic attribution will be disabled by default for all iOS 14 and above devices.
Singular exposes additional controls to allow probabilistic attribution to be used for select partners when iOS 14.5 is released, and advertisers are transitioning to privacy-centric measurement. We advocate for advertisers using these controls with privacy being their first goal to protect end-users, advertisers, and partners. There are scenarios where probabilistic matching is still allowed by ATT, and/or the only option of measurement for example when SKAdNetwork is not available.
If you are a partner who needs help transitioning mutual customers, please:
- Reach out to your Singular partner manager, or the integration team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and indicate that you are a partner that would like to discuss these controls with mutual advertisers. Notifying Singular is a necessary step for partners to be included in the enabled-partner list for allowing advertisers to activate probabilistic attribution controls.
- Append the relevant source media type parameter to all clicks and impressions for an advertiser's campaigns so it is eligible for probabilistic attribution. This parameter allows Singular to identify the media type of the ad and utilize supported attribution methods for that media type. Below summarizes the available source media types for partners:
Partner Links - Source Media Type _smtype=1
Indicates the partner link is attributing "paid, mobile web" media. This option will allow the partner link to probabilistically attribute, but only if the installed user opted into ATT consent.
This is the default if _smtype= is not present in the partner link
Indicates the partner link is attributing "paid, mobile app" media. Probabilistic attribution is never used for this source media type.
Indicates the partner link is attributing "owned, mobile web" media. This option will allow the partner link to probabilistically attribute regardless of the installed user's ATT consent
Warning: This option should only be used after understanding and discussing with advertisers that this scenario is compliant with Apple's ATT guidelines
Important: Discuss with your advertiser that the usage of these options is compliant with the advertiser's privacy policies, their business goals, and Apple's App Tracking Transparency guidelines.
I receive postback data from Singular. What do I have to prepare for?
Ad Network and DSP Partners
Partners who receive automatic postbacks on deterministic and probabilistic attributions today will continue to receive them. Once iOS 14.5 is live and App Tracking Transparency is enforceable, these attributions are only available for ATT-complaint scenarios.
Data and Analytics Partners
Partners who receive postbacks from Singular will continue to receive IDFAs and IDFVs when end-users consent to share their data, in compliance with Apple's App Tracking Transparency policy.
Singular will continue to send marketing insights from deterministic and probabilistic attributions for ATT-compliant scenarios.
What is SKAdNetwork?
SKAdNetwork is Apple's framework for privacy-preserving mobile attribution. It aims to help measure conversion rates of app install campaigns without compromising users’ identities. It was originally introduced with iOS 11.3, but it was updated significantly for the release of iOS 14 (SKAdNetwork version 2.0), now that more people are expected to adopt it as an alternative to user-level identifiers.
For more information, see Introduction to Singular's SKAdNetwork Solution.
How will Singular report attributions from SKAdNetwork?
With iOS 14, partners integrated with Singular and SKAdNetwork will have conversions reported as a separate metric next to traditional attribution conversions. Singular also supports a separate performance report with only SKAdNetwork activity.
For more information, see Introduction to Singular's SKAdNetwork Solution.
Why should ad network partners integrate with SKAdnetwork?
With the introduction of App Tracking Transparency, traditional attribution measurement (based on user-level device identifiers) is expected to capture less of an advertiser's total marketing efforts. Advertisers will need to shift to SKAdNetwork for measurement and marketing analytics.
By itself, SKAdNetwork decentralizes key performance data between advertisers, publishers, ad networks, and mobile measurement providers, making it more difficult for advertisers to access the performance data needed to make marketing decisions.
Singular's SKAdNetwork solution helps advertisers continue to get the data they need through an exchange of information between the device, the ad network partner, and Singular as the MMP.