The next generation of privacy-centric attribution explained

By Oren Kaniel
privacy centric attribution ios 14

We at AppsFlyer have been working intensively to enable our customers, partners, and the entire ecosystem to prepare for the launch of iOS 14. We outlined our full solution for maximizing SKAdNetwork insights, which includes our unique server-side configuration innovation; we elaborated on why attribution is crucial for end-users and the App Store ecosystem, and we introduced how attribution can be done while complying with Apple’s new privacy controls.

Our aggregated attribution innovation was received with incredible feedback from advertisers and partners alike. With that, the market has been asking for flexibility combined with privacy-centric attribution safeguards to enable innovative solutions. We’re happy to oblige, and are excited to provide more clarity and updates on what we see as the next evolution of attribution.

Privacy and security experts widely agree that aggregated data is better than user-level data when it comes to mitigating privacy and security risks.

Why has this shift not happened to date?  

  1. The industry has become accustomed to user-level data granularity, even where it wasn’t required.
  2. There was no incentive to evolve from this status quo.
  3. There was no other viable solution. In most cases to date, the only option for app developers was to integrate with partners at a user-level granularity. 

Apple’s latest iOS 14 privacy guidelines can drive adoption of the mindset that aggregated data should be preferred when user-level data is not required or permitted with proper user consent. In fact, this is the spirit of both the GDPR and CCPA regulations.

AppsFlyer’s mission in supporting a privacy-centric future

AppsFlyer is a first-party software-as-a-service used by app developers and advertisers as a CRM. AppsFlyer allows them to manage, analyze, and secure their first-party end-user data, while complying with privacy regulations and platform policies, such as the ones recently introduced by Apple.

User privacy is deeply rooted in our culture and products, and is one of AppsFlyer’s four core pillars. It’s what we pride ourselves on, and what we’ll continue to champion. With that in mind, we adopted the strictest privacy and security standards. As a result, we continued to invest in evolving our probabilistic modeling capabilities.

Unlike fingerprinting, which seeks to maximize captured data points from each user in hopes of creating an ID, AppsFlyer’s Probabilistic Modeling is employed with the sole purpose of non-deterministically attributing users’ activity within the scope of an advertiser’s apps, and connect that to their owned media such as websites, social media platforms, emails, user referrals, and their own ads which users interacted with.

As opposed to ID matching and lookback windows, this form of anonymized attribution is based on machine learning and probability; therefore lookback windows cannot be defined. 

One of AppsFlyer’s core mission statements is to enable market innovation. The innovators and creators we want to empower are the app developers, our partners, and the ecosystem as a whole. That’s why AppsFlyer is committed to maintaining an open platform – a much-needed ingredient for innovation – and to enable full transparency, flexibility, and freedom of choice, while providing the safeguards and tools to align with Apple’s iOS 14 privacy guidelines.

Enabling flexibility while aligning with privacy guidelines

With AppsFlyer’s solution, app developers are in the driver’s seat and have full control over their data, deciding exactly how it is collected, managed, and used by partners via data access permissions. AppsFlyer helps advertisers connect with an extensive list of 7000+ partners. Each of these partners has different integration requirements, terms & conditions, and data privacy policies in place. AppsFlyer doesn’t have control nor knowledge of the agreement terms app developers have with their partners. 

Advertisers will have complete flexibility to choose the datasets they would like to share with each of their partners, by selecting between two modes of partner integrations: 

partner integration mode - iOS14 privacy

 To align on terminology, we are defining the following datasets:

dataset definitions - attribution data iOS14
(i) Device-level identifiers =IDFV, IDFA – given user ATT (AppTrackingTransparency) consent.
*Later this year we will introduce a strict aggregate attribution mode that is based on aggregated data entirely. Please contact us if you are interested. 

We recommend that our customers constantly review their partner integrations and move towards advanced privacy mode to leverage our aggregated attribution data wherever possible. To clarify, advertisers will continue to have access to user-level attribution by default, unless selected otherwise. 

iOS 14 introduces new challenges and opportunities for our customers, partners, and the entire industry. We are committed to maintaining AppsFlyer as an open platform and to provide our customers and partners with the flexibility they need to achieve their goals and increase users’ privacy. 

There are almost 100,000 innovators using AppsFlyer’s platform and APIs. We are here to help them navigate the challenges ahead and to identify and capture opportunities in order to continue to delight their end-users while increasing their privacy.

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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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