Aggregated Advanced Privacy, and the future of privacy-centric measurement

By Oren Kaniel
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Since the very beginning, privacy and security have been one of AppsFlyer’s core pillars, and our long-term commitment and investment in these areas pushed us to become experts on both. It helped us gain the trust of the biggest brands in the world by continuously prioritizing end-users’ privacy and experience.

As a first-party, cloud-based software, used as a CRM, AppsFlyer enables brands to delight their end-users while preserving their privacy, and helps them comply with regulations and platform policies such as the updated iOS 14 guidelines.

We’ve spent the last few years working on several innovative privacy-preserving solutions. Recently, we introduced a few of these groundbreaking technologies that are changing the industry’s measurement paradigm: From Incrementality measurement, to our SK360 suite of products, predictive analytics in SKAdNetwork (PredictSK), web to app campaigns, and Aggregated Advanced Privacy (AAP) framework.

These solutions enable our customers to maintain exceptional user experience while also preserving the highest standards of privacy protection.  

In the last couple of months, we’ve been collaborating with the entire market to adapt to SKAdNetwork and introduced SK360, helping brands to maximize SKAdNetwork’s value and insights. However, the ecosystem adoption rates of Apple’s SKAdNetwork are still low, given its complexities, misconceptions, potential fraud risks, and the lack of clarity regarding the enforcement date.

These risks and unknowns introduce significant challenges for all players in the ecosystem, but mostly for app developers. We are fully committed to resolving these challenges through our continued efforts to educate all affected parties, and by democratizing SKAdNetwork through collaboration across advertisers, ad-networks, and the entire ecosystem.

With great power, comes great responsibility

As a trusted market leader, we are aware of our immense responsibility. Both to our customers, by enabling them to comply with Apple’s policies and guidelines, and to the end-users, by making sure their privacy is preserved without impacting their experience.

Privacy and security experts widely agree that aggregated data is preferable to user-level data when it comes to privacy and security risks. We have also previously discussed how aggregated measurement can improve both users’ experience and privacy, without building extensive user-level profiles, by simply closing the user feedback loop on an aggregated level as opposed to user-level. 

To that end, Aggregated Advanced Privacy will become the default operational mode, and user-level attribution data will not be available by default for Apple devices operating on iOS 14.5 or above, except in cases that are explicitly permitted by Apple, such as: owned media, ATT consented users, or users who have not yet updated to iOS 14.5.

Similar to SKAdnetwork, AppsFlyer’s Aggregated Advanced Privacy aims to prevent cross-site measurement and the ability to uniquely identify a user or device. In fact, AppsFlyer’s Aggregated Advanced Privacy takes SKAdNetwork privacy levels as a minimum benchmark for its privacy-preserving thresholds.

What to expect down the road in 2021 

While deterministic user-level attribution is an accurate proxy to aggregated campaign performance, we have found that aggregated data provides more accurate measurement in a non-deterministic world. This is simply because the machine learning goal is to maximize the accuracy of the campaign’s aggregated performance, not the end-user attribution accuracy.

In other words, while the goal of user-level attribution is to try and minimize false-positives and negatives, aggregated methods are not bound to user-level constraints, and therefore can provide better accuracy and much better user privacy.

Our goal is to maximize campaign performance accuracy and granularity while providing a level of privacy that is equivalent or better to that defined by Apple and its SKAdnetwork framework.

This is why we will continue to enhance and develop our Aggregated Advanced Privacy measurement technologies to improve privacy by making cross-site measurement technically impossible and improving on the SKAdNetwork privacy benchmark.

As a trusted, unbiased and independent market leader, it is our responsibility to ensure we’re constantly doing the right thing for our customers, app developers, ecosystem and most importantly the end users.

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Oren Kaniel

Oren Kaniel is co-founder and CEO of AppsFlyer. He loves everything mobile and is a creative thinker, listener, talker, and is trying to be a blogger. Oren holds a BA in Computer Science, Cum Laude, from the Technion, and an MBA from IDC, as part of an exchange with the Wharton Business School.

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