Apple released its first public iOS14 beta on June 9, 2020. The release of iOS14 was monumental for user privacy as the default shifted from users having to opt-out of tracking to one where a user had to opt into tracking.
In addition, the events that growth marketers traditionally optimized towards (events that signaled high intent such as registration, first-time deposit, a bet placed) are delayed up to 3 days in reporting and each social network had a minimum threshold of install volume that was required for any of these conversions to be reported. These minimums differ by the social network because each social advertising platform reacted to iOS14 uniquely, resulting in a fragmented operational landscape and with the iOS14 SKAdNetwork everchanging.
Introducing the StoreKitAdNetwork (“SKAdNetwork”):
StoreKitAdNetwork (“SKAdNetwork”) is Apple’s privacy-centric API that allows advertisers to measure their ad activity on an aggregated level. Users that opt into tracking on both the advertiser’s platform and on the RMG app are able to be tracked. These conversions are sent in real-time whereas the conversions for users that opted out of tracking are delayed up to three days. That means that the conversion events and performance from Sunday’s NFL games could appear as late as Wednesday.
iOS14 Challenges and Ways to Approach:
iOS14 conversions may have up to a three-day lag in reporting. This means that real-time portfolio optimization decisions have to be made with limited data with a mix of lagged data and real-time data. This can be especially strenuous when their demand may be compressed over a short period of time, for example, during the Super Bowl or NBA Finals.
Leveraging Limited Data to Make Real-time Optimizations:
The furthest down funnel metric that is comprehensively visible in real-time for an app campaign is a link click. If the unique link click to install rate, install → registration rate, and registration → first-time deposit rate is fairly consistent over time, then you could extrapolate on unique link clicks to estimate the number of conversions that could be expected down the funnel.
These estimations can then be leveraged to make real-time portfolio management decisions based on directional data although leveraging unique link click data can be volatile and the cost-per-unique link click, as well as conversion rates, may vary greatly dependent on the following factors amongst others:
- Type of Campaign (Brand v. Acquisition v. Retention/Reactivation)
- Daily Spend
- Offer Type
- Market Dynamics
Extrapolating on iOS14:
Beyond the time delay, the majority of campaigns, besides those with higher levels of volume (70+ installs/day) which may be reserved to all but the largest of advertisers, will only receive some conversions back at best. This minimum number of conversions varies with each social network due to each social network creating its own bespoke solution to iOS14.
That means that:
- all installs will be visible (up to a 3-day delay)
- some registrations at best will be visible
- some first-time deposits at best will be visible
- any event beyond installation will have limited conversions visible at best
Even if conversions are returned, without understanding what percent of overall conversions those shown represent, you have a minimum number of conversions attributed to a campaign but are still unable to calculate the total conversions each campaign generated and how many players your campaign acquired.
An extrapolation is an effective approach to estimating the number of conversions that a campaign has produced. The most important aspect is to ensure that the methodology utilized to extrapolate is reliable. At a high level, extrapolation is a method of estimating what you’re not able to observe by making assumptions on what you are able to observe. For example, the extrapolation that every 10 installs results in 4 registration can be applied to a scenario where the installs are visible. From there you can apply a registration-to-first-time deposit rate to estimate the number of players your campaign produced.
Potential Proxies for Extrapolation Include:
- Historical iOS data
- Android data
- Organic data
Note that the variables shown above in “Leveraging Limited Data to Make Real-time Optimizations” can also have an impact on conversion rates and as a result, in extrapolation rates.
Reporting on iOS14:
The most reliable way to report on iOS14 would be to wait for three days until the reporting week has concluded in order to have full visibility into installs. From that point, you can extrapolate down-funnel conversions. If you are extrapolating on unique link clicks then would be advisable to compare the extrapolations up to installation after the fact to ensure that the methodology is consistent, reliable, and accurate and to estimate the cost-per-player acquired which you can compare to the lifetime value of the player (which varies greatly in the RMG sector).
Optimization on iOS14:
The guidance of every social media marketing channel has been to start to optimize up funnel to install as the primary optimization, and if a substantial number of conversions are being returned down funnel, then to experiment with down funnel optimizations.
Although having only a portion of conversions returned will not help to achieve comprehensive reporting, optimizations down funnel improve as a higher number of signals are sent back. These signals inform the marketing platforms of the users that are taking the actions that are desired and help marketing platforms deliver advertisements to other users that have a propensity to take the action based on previously collected data.
In conclusion, growing businesses under iOS14+ has become more challenging due to the ambiguity around the actual metrics, and provided that this is the most valuable platform to acquire for RMG, investing time into a way to operationalize the shifting landscape will be well worth the effort. Especially because there is already an indication that other platforms are likely to follow suit and prioritize privacy, in essence limiting the data that marketers have available to target and understand the impact of advertising precisely.
This article is a mere introduction to iOS14 and methods to navigate the initial set of changes there will be more and each marketing technology company will react differently. The Flatiron Gaming Team stays on top of the most recent changes and solutions and we constantly evolve our approaches to determine the optimal path to effectively acquiring iOS14. If you have any questions about navigating iOS14 or want to learn more about Flatiron Gaming and how we can help, please visit our website or email me directly at email@example.com
Flatiron Gaming is a leading digital agency for US legalized online sportsbook and casino platforms (RMG). We’ve efficiently spent $300M+ on US RMG advertising, won 3x Webby Awards, achieved two #1 sports apps, and are live across all legalized US states. Some of our partners include: Caesars Sportsbook & Casino, FanDuel, William Hill, WSOP, Parx Casino, Firekeepers Casino, Jackpocket, Lucktastic & more.