SSOT attribution uplift and eCPI drop per category revealed

By Naval Handa
SSOT data: 29% attribution uplift - featured

Our world is overwhelming. There’s too much information, too many distractions, too many voices. Not to mention fake news.

Distilling down to a single source of truth can filter out the noise and help you focus on what’s most important to you. 

iOS 14 measurement is no different. SKAN vs. non-SKAN channels are creating too much noise. In the world of data, this means duplications, which translates into incorrect data and ultimately wrong decisions and waste. In other words, fake news.

We were floored when we uncovered the actual data: Advertisers with primarily non-SRN campaigns saw that around 62% of their SKAN installs were duplicates, while those with primarily SRN campaigns saw that around 18% of their SKAN installs were duplicates. 

The Single Source of Truth (SSOT) solution which we released back in September 2021 accurately dedupes data from the multiple data sources in iOS. 

To understand the impact in actual numbers, we took a dive into our data (looking at over 900 apps that met our minimal cohort size) and found that the average app enjoyed an 29% non-organic install attribution uplift, a 40% drop in eCPI, and a 62% increase in revenue attributed to marketing. For the full numbers per category, see ahead.

How to cultivate a Single Source of Truth

Before we dive into the numbers, a quick recap. In a recent blog post we spoke about SKAdNetwork and its effect on measurement: marketers can no-longer consume data from a single source, but instead try to piece together the truth from several data silos. 

Even then, it’s impossible to get a clear picture of campaign performance due to the fact that different attribution sources can report the same install and create duplicates.

attribution options

SSOT solves the SKAN reporting problem by flagging an already existing non-organic install record attributed through SKAN. This is done by using 1 bit of the SKAN Conversion Value, which flags that an attribution exists, which then enables AppsFlyer to deduplicate between SKAN installs and installs that have been attributed by AppsFlyer.

Boost your NOI drip 

By enabling SSOT, advertisers can recover the real number of unattributed installs and successfully attribute more installs to ad networks — and more importantly to their own efforts. This will allow them to get better results for the same amount of effort and money. 

Using data from our SSOT customers, we can see the estimated lift to NOI attribution by app category below:

We see that with SSOT apps have an average 29% lift in attribution from their previous NOI estimates. In other words, on average, apps add an extra third to the number of installs attributed to non-organic sources!

Among all categories, we see Hardcore with the best average at 35% lift. Finance and Shopping apps follow up with a ~33% lift in NOI attribution. Notice the trend in gaming, where Hardcore — as the “robust” group of games — has the highest lift in attribution, while Hyper Casual — as the “softest” — has the lowest.

Don’t let your eCPI leave you weepy-eyed

Since the release of iOS 14, the total cost for each campaign was reported alongside partial install data, resulting in a distorted picture of critical cost metrics such as eCPI, eCPA and as a result ROAS.

To calculate eCPI, the total cost of a campaign is divided by the total number of installs. Taking the entire cost of campaigns and applying it to only a partial set of install data is mathematically guaranteed to lead to a higher eCPI than the actual true CPI due to the small denominator (total number of installs) blowing up the entire fraction. 

According to our data, we can see the estimated change to eCPI by app category below:

Across all categories, we see the biggest drop in Health & Fitness, at -61% or more than half. Shopping and Finance apps see drops of more than a 1/3rd in eCPI. 

These are staggering results that demonstrate the presence of over-inflated eCPIs without SSOT. 

Making decisions with a lower, more accurate estimate of eCPI will allow marketers to make better decisions on which campaigns to spend more on, and which campaigns to wind down – especially as teams prepare their 2023 marketing strategy and campaigns. 

Boost in revenue attributed to non-organic installs 

By enabling SSOT, advertisers can recover the real number of unattributed installs and successfully attribute more installs to ad networks and their own efforts. 

The revenue generated by these installs can now be correctly attributed to the relevant ad network instead of being erroneously attributed to organic installs. 

Let us consider in-app purchases revenue, and explore how a typical app can benefit within their respective category.

This time, Shopping edges out in the lead at a 70% increase in IAP revenue attributed to NOIs. All Gaming groups show a lift of 45%+, with the highest lift in Gaming – Hardcore at 69% coming close to the results in Shopping. 

This boost in revenue unlocks better optimization for revenue-focused marketing campaigns, and is especially relevant for Shopping apps planning their holiday season spending campaigns. 


2023 App trends & C-level predictions

Explore now

Just like Harry Potter, the SSOT train is departing at platform 9¾  

Looking at all AppsFlyer iOS clients with SKAN installs, we see a strong trend of adoption of SSOT. In particular, we see a surge in adoption since April 2022, where rates have jumped from 5-10% across major categories to 16%-56% in October. 

Within Gaming, Social Casino leads the pack at 41% adoption in October, which is double the 20% adoption rate observed in May 2022. 

Finance and Shopping adoption hovered around 16% in May, and now swelled to 51% and 38% respectively. Health & Fitness currently leads the category race at 56% adoption. 

Gaming apps have been the slowest to adopt SSOT with Casual, Hyper Casual, Midcore, Hardcore apps hovering between 17%-27% adoption in October. 

All categories show a positive trend that highlights the value that SSOT can bring to any type of mobile app by improving campaign performance and making accurate marketing pivots. 

Key takeaways

  1. Lift your NOIs as they should be: we are seeing positive results when using SSoT to dedupe installs, with the typical app seeing 29% lift in attribution.
  1. Chop more than a third off your eCPI: When using the correct number of installs in the denominator of your eCPI calculation, the typical app sees a 40% decrease in eCPI.
  1. Attribute more revenue to marketing: Marketing activities should be properly attributed – it’s your work!  
  1. Read the market: High adoption across all categories implies a unique value proposition for iOS apps using SSOT. 
  1. Maximize the advantages of each model: Once advertisers can deduplicate data from both aggregate models, they can enjoy benefits of both full LTV based on traditional attribution models, and full coverage and deterministic data points from SKAdNetwork. Maximizing these advantages will help marketers make better decisions in an iOS 14+ reality.

As the industry continues to acclimate to the new era, it is critical that data accuracy and user privacy continue to coexist. Having certainty in the true results of your marketing efforts is mission-critical. A single source of truth for marketing performance ensures that marketers optimize their ad spend, grow their business, and supply superior experience to the end users.

Naval Handa

Naval is the Market Insights Analyst responsible for exploring app marketing narratives globally at AppsFlyer. A tenured data analyst with a keen eye for detail, Naval's passion for story-telling with data shines through varied content covering everything from gaming app optimizations to iOS privacy shifts.
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