What impact will iOS14 and SKAdnetwork have on your Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC)?

Last updated: 29/01/21

This post is part of a series of posts called “How key mobile media channels are responding to iOS14 and SKAdnetwork: Everything you need to know in one place”. In this post we explore in detail how Google’s Universal App Campaigns (UAC) will be impacted by Apple’s decision to make IDFA access opt-in for users. You can get detail we’ve put together for the other top iOS Self Attributing Networks (SANs) using the links below:

What is Google UAC’s iOS share of wallet?

To start, let’s look at how significant iOS spend is for Google UAC campaigns. We recently looked at ad spend by Operating System (OS) in a benchmark report of our customers. For Google UAC, spend unsurprisingly goes heavily towards Android devices. With 88% of UAC spend on Android devices vs 12% on iOS devices amongst our customer base.

Google UAC OS revenue split

However, they do still have the third biggest iOS share of wallet of all Self Attributing Networks (SANs) with 10%, behind Facebook and Apple Search Ads. So it’s not an insignificant slice of the iOS pie.

For more information on iOS share of wallet, download our quarterly benchmark report.

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What is Google doing about IDFA losses?

After a prolonged silence, Google made their first announcements about plans for Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework on January 27th 2021.. The highlights of the announcement were:

  • No ATT prompts on Google apps: In an announcement that surprised many they shared that they will not show the ATT prompt or collect IDFAs on their own apps.
  • They will support SKAdNetwork: The solution they’re pushing is Firebase, which has support for SKAdNetwork if you upgrade to the latest version. They added “alternatively, you can use another SDK that supports SKAdnetwork or implement Apple’s SKAdnetwork API yourself.” What’s a little unclear is whether MMPs will receive this data from Google yet as they add later that “SKAdnetwork reporting data will be in the Google Ads API in the coming months.
  • Eight campaigns per iOS app: Due to SKAdNetwork limitations your Google UAC campaigns will be limited to 8 or fewer app install campaigns per iOS app.
  • Limited bid types for app campaigns: App campaign bidding is now limited to tCPI or tCPA bid types for iOS. Your 8 app install campaigns for iOS can’t use other bid types such as tROAS.
  • Decreased reach for iOS App Engagement campaigns: Due to limited IDFAs on iOS the reach for App Engagement campaigns is predicted to decrease when ATT is rolled out.
  • Modelled conversion reporting: App campaign reporting for iOS conversions in the Google Ads interface will use modelled conversion reporting. The model behind this is unclear, but assume it will use Google’s own Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to determine conversions.

Key reading:

Venturebeat article on Google’s announcement

Google Ads iOS14 announcement

Google Ads iOS14 help article for app advertisers and developers

What does it mean for your Google UAC campaigns?

With Google’s new advice, there is some key areas to prepare for before the March / April deadline:

  • Measurement:
    • MMPs: If you use Google’s Firebase, update to the latest version and you have SKAdNetwork support. If you use a third-party MMP (Appsflyer, Adjust, Branch, Kochava) it’s unclear on the timeline for support for Google UAC campaigns. Clarify timelines with your MMP and if it won’t be delivered by March/April you may need to implement Firebase or implement Apple’s SKAdNetwork API yourself. The uncertainty here is that Google may use this as an opportunity to push Firebase vs channels like Facebook who are supporting MMPs.
    • Conversion reporting: As always it’s important to have an apples-to-apples comparison when comparing conversions across channels. With the lack of clarity around how conversions are modelled in the Google Ads interface we’d recommend using third-party conversion reporting to avoid letting the student mark their own homework.
  • Campaign structure: Like other channels, SKAdNetwork limitations result in the need for some campaign consolidation with Google UAC:
    • Limited app campaigns: You will need to consolidate your UAC campaigns on iOS down to max 8 campaigns per app. This may require removing campaigns for some apps to optimise performance.
    • Focus on tCPI and tCPA bidding: If you are using and bid types other than tCPI or tCPA bidding for iOS campaigns you’ll need to switch bidding over to tCPI or tCPA. This includes if you’re using the tROAS beta.
    • Reduce iOS App Engagement campaigns: Reach is likely to drop significantly for App Engagement campaigns so it’s likely best to reduce or pause these campaigns and redistribute budget elsewhere.
  • Prepare for performance fluctuations: Much like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, you will likely be reporting a perceived loss in performance for UAC campaigns after Apple implements this change. This is simply due to UAC campaigns losing credit for interactions before the last-click. You should also account for Google’s algorithms requiring a learning period after the change to adjust to the new world. This may cause fluctuations in performance for the short-term. It may be worth trying to switch budget to UAC campaigns on Android in the unlikely scenario that you’re able to squeeze out more performance there.

Concluding thoughts

These changes create more data complexity when you’re trying to get a single and reliable full-funnel view of performance across channels and operating systems. Here at Appsumer this kind of data complexity is what we thrive on. We’re building the most complete SKAdNetwork Reporting & Modelling solution to deliver you transparency on different metrics and a full performance view despite SKAdNetwork’s limitations. You can read more on that here or get in touch to discuss specific solutions for your challenges.

For now, give us a shout if you have any questions and check back here as we update this resource when more announcements are made in the coming month.

P.S. Don’t forget you can get more detail that we’ve put together by media channel using these links: