SSOT: A one-stop shop for bridging iOS data gaps

By Orr Weil
Featured SSOT

On September 16, 2020, mobile marketers had a watershed moment. 

iOS 14 triggered a massive shift in the industry: from focusing on individual perspectives in data to adopting an aggregate approach. As part of this transition, we had to familiarize ourselves with SKAdNetwork (SKAN) to analyze the performance of our iOS campaigns.

It was no easy task to say the least, but eventually, we grasped the nuances of SKAN. We developed sensible conversion value strategies and gained a better understanding of user lifetime value (LTV) and campaign granularity. 

SKAN continued to evolve and, unlike its previous versions, SKAN 4.0 now offers an extended measurement window of up to 35 days, as well as improved granularity in campaign dimension reporting and added support for web-to-app attribution.

But while SKAN 4.0 represents a positive step forward, it still grapples with the following issues:

  • Partial attribution: Only 70-90% of the actual performance per media channel is being reported. 
  • Incompleteness: SKAN does not report data for organic, Apple Search Ads, many integrated networks, influencers,  owned media and more.
  • Delayed conversion reporting: SKAN data is received only 24-144 hours after the fact, limiting the ability to perform campaign optimization quickly (a ”move fast and break things” methodology is impossible).
  • Limited LTV: There are just 64 options to measure in-app performance within the first 1-2 days, which impacts accuracy and visibility. While SKAN 4.0 extends the LTV window, it still lacks granularity, especially for the second and third postbacks, which return coarse values.
  • Limited granularity: You’re missing critical dimensions such as country, adset, ad creative, and more.
  • User acquisition only: SKAN lacks the ability to measure re-engagements.

Enter a Single Source of Truth

AppsFlyer’s Single Source of Truth (SSOT) was launched in May 2022 to address the challenges mentioned above. It’s a first-of-its-kind solution that allows advertisers to consolidate data from various sources, tackling duplicate installs and delivering valuable insights.

SSOT provides full-fledged measurement for both non-organic and organic activity, as well as a unified dashboard that houses all your traffic sources: organic, paid media, owned media, influencers, and more.

By combining the strengths of both AppsFlyer and SKAN, SSOT improves accuracy, enhances remarketing capabilities, and delivers real-time insights. 

In fact, according to our research, apps that used SSOT saw a 29% uplift in non-organic install attribution. What’s more, by prioritizing AppsFlyer attribution when SKAN data is lacking, marketers can reduce campaign eCPI by between 20% and 60% (depending on category), while also increasing revenue attribution. This gives them the flexibility to increase their budgets. 

It’s also worth noting that many marketers run re-engagement campaigns, targeting users who have interacted with an app they’ve already installed. This is where SKAN falls short as it doesn’t account for this revenue, so can’t provide figures on the return on remarketing investment.

SSOT doesn’t stop at consolidating data — it also excels in providing real-time insights, a key advantage for marketers seeking instant results (that’s all of us, right?). Whereas SKAN insights come with a 24-144 hour delay, SSOT ensures that in-app event attributions are visible as they occur. This speedy feedback loop allows marketers to react promptly to campaign changes, new channel opportunities, or expansions into different geographic regions. 

With AppsFlyer attribution leading the way in SSOT, marketers can immediately monitor conversion rates, such as installs, registrations, trial starts, game-level completions, and more. This agility allows them to fine-tune their campaigns without waiting for days to gain insights.

Embracing probabilistic models to fill in the gaps

SSOT isn’t just another product — it’s a whole new way of approaching attribution and measurement in the post iOS-14 era. Crucially, it enables advertisers to make data-driven decisions with all the pieces in place, rather than seeing a fragmented view of their data.

One of the main challenges advertisers face is the need to make decisions based on incomplete or unavailable data from SKAN.

For instance, the earlier SKAN versions offered limited revenue data within a short 24-hour window. Although SKAN 4.0 has an extended 35-day measurement window, it still offers an imprecise view of campaign performance due to the use of coarse values. There can also still be a delay of up to 144 hours in receiving day 7 revenue data.

SSOT addresses these challenges by taking a different approach, one that aligns with how you probably measure user LTV. This requires a change in mindset, moving from a deterministic method to a probabilistic one that relies on machine learning to offer a high level of accuracy. It’s a practical shift toward the future of data analysis, focusing on adaptability and precision.

SSOT’s modeling solutions are designed with this approach in mind. They harness the power of available data from consented users to deliver valuable LTV metrics, including insights into day 7 revenue, GEO breakdowns, and much more.

For example, the day 7 revenue model identifies a subset of users who show similar behavior on both AppsFlyer and SKAN down to the campaign level. It then analyzes consented users’ data after seven days and calculates the ratio between day 7 and day 1. Then, it applies that same ratio to model SKAN data for day 7 for the equivalent group we identified before.

The day 7 accumulated revenue includes both the revenue reported by AppsFlyer and the modeled revenue from SKAN.

The “end game”

To date, we’ve introduced five new features to our Single Source of Truth dashboard, encompassing organic data, day 7 revenue metrics, geo metrics, app currency, and timezone support. 

Our latest enhancement empowers advertisers to monitor in-app event performance. It offers real-time in-app user performance data, providing immediate insights into user actions like registrations, trial starts, and purchases. This real-time data, prioritizing AppsFlyer attribution in the absence of sufficient SKAN data, lets marketers quickly assess the impact of changes, monitor conversion rates, and avoid costly errors.

As we continue to enhance SSOT, it’s essential to connect these advancements with our broader vision. We continue to support our customers in their quest to fill data blind spots by offering a one-stop, comprehensive, and real-time reporting solution for iOS campaigns, and in the future, for Android as well.

Orr Weil

Orr Weil serves as a Senior Product Manager at AppsFlyer, bringing with him more than five years of expertise in B2B product management. He possesses a deep passion for shaping a vision when developing a new product and is highly enthusiastic about formulating strategies to surmount obstacles and transform ideas into innovative solutions.
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