It's no secret that the iOS14.5 update has created a challenge in understanding detailed app performance within our industry. Despite this, Acceleration Partners has found several innovative ways to support brands' app performance and show results. There are three key steps following this Apple update that brands should be implementing with their partnership marketing agency:
- Diving into the logistics of how the tracking works and how your brand can view app performance
- Questioning what your abilities and options are as an advertiser
- Building strategies with your affiliate marketing agency, based on the above knowledge
In this blog post, we will explore this process and break it down so you can confidently use affiliate marketing to support your app efforts as a business.
Breaking down how iOS14.5 app tracking works
Since iOS14.5 has launched, tracking app installs and in-app conversions has become difficult to analyze for any affiliate partner that tracks app performance and incentivizes app-installs. This challenge was due to Apple's initiative of making it the consumer's choice whether they'd like to be tracked or not, giving them an option to opt out.
Now that traditional tracking (deterministic and probabilistic) is no longer possible with the iOS14.5 update, there has been a drop in iOS app tracking as we know it. However, it is still possible to track Android app installs and conversions, as well as mobile web-to-web.
To give a rough overview of what this means in terms of tracking and how this all connects with affiliate marketing, let's go through the players involved and why they are relevant.
Apple's StoreKit Ad Network
StoreKit Ad Network (SKAdNetwork) is Apple's new method for attributing acquisition efforts and mobile advertising effectiveness. Brands and affiliates can use the SKAdNetwork to verify the overall effectiveness of advertising campaigns or affiliate promotions. However, Apple has added an arbitrary delay of 24 to 48 hours before it will report a conversion. SKAdNetwork is designed to show generally how effective a campaign is at driving conversions, yet it never specifically tells the brand that X media source drove Y user.
Mobile Measurement Partner attribution companies
A Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) is a third-party attribution company that collects, organizes and presents data from marketing campaigns to provide brands with a unified view of their campaign performance. These partners are integrated into the SKAdNetwork to give brands more visibility into their mobile performance and combines data across both Android and iOS.
Affiliate marketing has historically relied on deterministic or probabilistic matching, which is no longer possible with the iOS14.5 update. To give the MMPs better insight into channel attribution from an affiliate, affiliate networks are starting to implement MMPs into their networks to showcase what each affiliate does for android and web-to-web users, so the MMPs can better understand the potential impact of affiliates on iOS performance.
As we can't track partial app downloads and usage, it creates a new hurdle within the affiliate space, but also allows us to think outside-the-box and develop strategies that can still support our clients and affiliate partners.
How to retrieve affiliate marketing data
While the mobile update prevents much of the transactional data from being used, aggregated data can still give brands a rough overview of their channel's app performance.
Let's walk through a mobile ad scenario using aggregated data as a solution to the iOS14.5 update:
- An iPhone user is presented a mobile ad and they decide to click on the ad, which (after 3 seconds) gets recorded in the SKAdNetwork.
- The SKAdNetwork aggregates the data so the integrated MMPs (or advertisers) can utilize the information to understand overall performance by campaign (up to 100 campaigns).
- The advertiser's MMP of choice will then utilize this data to appropriately add attribution to the information received, so the advertiser understands where the performance is coming from.
Some advertisers choose to integrate their affiliate technology platform to the MMP platforms, to provide more information regarding affiliate performance (or click data), especially around Android and mobile web performance. This is what creates a holistic view for the MMPs to deliver to the advertisers. Affiliate networks rely on conversion data from advertisers, making it imperative that the relationship goes both ways.
Below is a visual representation of the flow of information discussed above. Note that the affiliate network's data will be incomplete due to the Apple update.
What to consider before building your affiliate strategies
To best understand how affiliate marketing—and our team of experts at Acceleration Partners—can support your app efforts, here are some questions that you might want to ask yourself as a brand:
- Are you currently tracking app installs and app conversions within your affiliate program?
- Do you rely on an MMP and utilize their attribution?
- Have you integrated your MMP with your affiliate network/technology platform of choice?
- Have budgets been changed or do you foresee budgets changing based on tracking dropping for iOS phones?
- Do you have data from prior to the iOS14.5 change (April 2021) that can help determine which partners were most impacted by the change?
- Have you had discussions about how best to optimize mobile performance-based partnerships internally?
Whatever your answers are to the above questions, Acceleration Partners has the knowledge and expertise to effectively find solutions to these new app tracking challenges. We've developed several affiliate strategies for brands to implement in response to the iOS14.5 update.
Must-have affiliate strategies brands should implement
Many brands are worried about not being able to reward their affiliates, who drive installs and conversions, because of the iOS14.5 update. However, Acceleration Partners has identified several ways to still optimize with partners and ensure that we continue our great partner relationships.
Below are three different strategies to use when optimizing your program without complete app tracking:
- Focus on partners driving mobile conversions. If a brand had an affiliate program before iOS14.5 went live, we can utilize previous data to determine which partners were driving significant iOS installs and conversions. By over-investing in those partners and their mobile placements, you can ensure that your brand's overall business does not suffer.
- Recruit partners focused on mobile and CPM. As we can't track the full picture for app installs and conversions, affiliates are currently underpaid compared to the performance they are actually driving. Acceleration Partners encourages our clients to either increase their current payouts (per action) or try a different route where they pay per view (CPM) via a flat fee with lead-gen partnerships.
- Encourage partners to integrate affiliate tracking within their app. To ensure brands get the most accurate data, we encourage top app affiliates to integrate the brand's affiliate technology and MMP tracking into the affiliate's app to keep track of adaptation.
There are many ways Acceleration Partners can support app efforts, above and beyond what is already discussed in this blog. We are still tracking Android performance, and we have in-depth insights from MMP partners and overall industry knowledge that your brand can feel confident leaning on.
Understanding the fundamentals, asking yourself questions about what you can or can't do in terms of app tracking and reporting, all will help guide your brand in choosing the strategies that will best support your app performance and help reach your brand's goals and KPIs.
At Acceleration Partners, we understand that every situation is unique. We take time to learn our client brands and understand their individual challenges so we can recommend and implement strategies to help you meet goals and grow your program.