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To SKAN, or Not to SKAN: That is the Question

By August 16, 2023Education 9 Min Read

Do you really need SKAdNetwork for your iOS app?

In Shakespeare’s poem, Hamlet presents us with a question – To be, or not to be. Since 1601 we have been contemplating his proposal, taking it upon ourselves to find the answer. It’s hard to believe that over four hundred years later marketers would be faced with a similarly difficult question – To SKAN, or not to SKAN. Unlike Shakespeare, we are here to help you find the answer.

Shakespeare holding a quill and SKAN.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that using SKAdNetwork (SKAN) isn’t required just because you have an iOS app. However, SKAN can open up more opportunities as the app grows or when you expand your marketing efforts. 

SKAN, or SKAdNetwork, is a complicated topic and attempting to understand all of its nuances can be a daunting task. So let’s determine if you really need SKAN for your iOS app or if you can bypass it. Below is a simplified chart explaining if you should use SKAN or not.

You need SKAN, if:

You want to run paid media campaigns for acquisition beyond Apple Search Ads.

You don’t need SKAN, if:

You’re not running any paid media or you’re only running paid acquisition campaigns on Apple Search Ads.

You need SKAN if…

In the realm of running paid media campaigns on iOS, employing SKAN becomes imperative if an advertiser seeks to collaborate with channel partners beyond ASA. SKAN stands as the sole privacy-compliant mechanism for effectively measuring campaign performance across all users, regardless of their opt-in or opt-out choices concerning the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework.

For example, should a marketer intend to drive iOS user acquisition through platforms like Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, and various other media partners, embracing SKAN is essential. Implementing SKAN requires a concerted investment of time and effort to comprehend its functionalities fully. Nonetheless, the payoff is invaluable as SKAN facilitates campaign measurement while respecting user privacy, regardless of their consent status via the ATT framework.

Although there might still be some volume of IDFA-based attribution available when iOS app users grant consent to tracking through the ATT framework, a significant majority of iOS app users opt-out of such tracking, irrespective of the appeal of an app’s ATT opt-in flow. Without SKAN, the visibility into this opted-out user segment remains entirely obscured, leading to an incomplete understanding of campaign impact.

By integrating SKAN, advertisers can gain comprehensive insights into campaign performance, even among opted-out users, ensuring a holistic understanding of user acquisition efforts across various channels. This strategic adoption of SKAN enables marketers to make data-driven decisions, optimize campaigns effectively, and adhere to privacy guidelines, thereby fostering long-term success in the dynamic landscape of iOS advertising.

You don’t need SKAN if…

In the context of user acquisition through paid media campaigns, the adoption of Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) warrants consideration based on specific marketing needs and strategies. If an organization does not engage in paid media campaigns with third-party ad networks, Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), or other publishers to drive user acquisition, the implementation of SKAN may not be necessary. However, it is important to recognize the distinction that Apple Search Ads (ASA) represents a notable exception within this context.

ASA stands as a paid media partner that operates exclusively within Apple’s ecosystem atop the App Store. Remarkably, ASA provides deterministic reporting capabilities that extend beyond the confines of SKAN. This essentially means that ASA offers a more precise and detailed attribution process, allowing marketers to gain comprehensive insights into the performance of their campaigns.

As a result, businesses that exclusively utilize ASA for their paid media endeavors can capitalize on its deterministic reporting features without the need for SKAN implementation.

You need SKAN but where to begin?

If you have come to the realization that SKAN is indeed necessary for your requirements, you are now prepared to embark on the next phase of your SKAN journey. As previously mentioned, the integration of SKAN entails a complex process, and prior to implementation, it is essential to acquire a comprehensive understanding of its functioning. 

For a detailed explanation on the workings of SKAN, we invite you to download “The Ultimate Marketer’s Guide to SKAdNetwork (SKAN)” here. This resource will serve as a valuable reference to facilitate a successful implementation and optimize your utilization of SKAN in your marketing endeavors.

Learn more about Kochava solutions for SKAN or get in touch with us.