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Apple’s Private Click Measurement Aims to Protect iOS Users From Web Tracking

By July 21, 2021August 18th, 2022iOS 14 & SKAdNetwork, News & Updates 7 Min Read

New protocol for measurement of online ads and web conversions still in beta but is available to advertisers

Apple continues its mission to secure iOS user privacy on the web. Its Private Click Measurement (PCM) will focus on attributing clicks on online ads and measuring conversions that occur on the web. PCM is being considered as Apple’s solution to securely measure the effectiveness of online ads in the absence of third-party cookies. 

PCM comes in addition to Apple’s industry-changing systems: the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework and SKAdNetwork, its privacy-first attribution system for in-app campaigns. PCM secures user privacy on the web by preventing cross-site tracking. Introduced by Webkit, the web browser engine used by Safari, PCM is focused on web-only measurement and will not have significant relevance to most app marketers.

What is PCM?

PCM will focus on ad clicks across websites (web to web) and from iOS apps to websites (app to web). When an iOS user clicks on an online ad and is redirected to a webpage for conversion (eg, an online store), that user’s click will be securely stored on the web browser that has PCM. 

Users are opted in by default, but they can opt-out through a Safari privacy setting. If a user opts out, no click metadata will be stored or attribution reports sent out. 

Below is an example of web-to-web measurement of a user’s journey from the ad click to the online store. A signal on the destination site will ping for attribution within 7 days of any activity. 

ApplePrivateClickMeasurement(PCM)web to webmeasurement

App-to-web measurement enables advertisers to measure a click from an in-app ad that redirects the users to a webpage where the conversion takes place. Currently, there is no web-to-app feature, however.

Apple Private Click Measurement (PCM) for app to web measurement

At first impression, PCM draws some parallels to Apple’s SKAdNetwork. The app-to-web aspect of this feature is capable of anonymously attributing in-app clicks to an external browser URL. This is not a new concept, as today a user can be routed from an app to an external web browser with identifying, attributable data. What it does, however, is anonymize the attribution in the same way SKAdNetwork does in the app to app scenario so that no sensitive data is included in the routing or URL itself. Of note, app-to-web attribution involves new first-class API calls in code and does not rely on creating a web view within the app. A postback is fired with this model after a randomized timer expires.

Note: PCM is not intended for use of tracking users, events, or devices, and if an advertiser is in violation, Webkit will block usage of it. 

Kochava will support PCM

As adtech ventures further into a privacy-first era, Kochava will continue to support initiatives by the major platforms in accomplishing this. PCM is in its beta stages and is not currently in effect. In the meantime, Kochava is scoping how best to adapt our systems and processes to maintain user privacy while providing holistic measurement.

For more information, please contact your Client Success Manager or contact us