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

Last updated: 20/10/20

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?

“Can you hear that? No me neither.” That pretty much sums up what we’ve heard from Google about iOS14 and UAC campaigns. It’s unsurprising on a few levels:

  1. As we covered, we see that just 12% of Google’s UAC spend comes from iOS devices compared to 88% on Android. This makes it a less significant concern for Google UAC. However, it likely is still a minor concern as they have that overall 10% share of wallet of all iOS spend, so there’s still a significant amount of mobile ad revenue up for grabs.
  2. It’s a complex topic for Google. When Apple’s Safari browser launched ITP on the web, which blocked third-party cookies by default, Google followed suit with user privacy announcements about how Chrome would deal with third-party cookies. Similarly, with Apple’s iOS14 moves blocking IDFA use by default there are questions about how Google might follow suit with its own Google Advertising ID (GAID). This would have far reaching implications for many Google business units, so it’s not a simple decision. This is part of the challenge of being both a platform owner and advertising channel that Google’s faced on the web and they now face along with Apple on mobile.

So, what do we know? Unlike Facebook, Google hasn’t said it will completely stop collecting IDFAs on their own apps. The only steer we can take today is how Google Admob is advising mobile developers to prepare for the iOS14 changes. Here and here they are advising developers to adopt the SKAdnetwork (SKAN) framework via their latest Google Mobile Ads SDK for iOS and adopt the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework to continue collecting IDFAs. This would suggest that they are going to be using SKAN – and like most Self Attributing Networks (SANs) we suspect they will – whilst also collecting IDFAs where users opt-in. However, this and any thoughts on how this will impact UAC ad options or performance are speculation at this point. 

Key reading:

Adexchanger analysis of Google’s silence on iOS14 

Eric Seufert’s analysis of what a potential GAID deprecation might look like

What does it mean for your Google UAC campaigns?

With the silence from Google, it’s hard to advise on how to prepare, but here’s a couple of things to start thinking about:

  • Measurement: We’d suggest using a working assumption that Google will adopt SKAN when you’re planning your post-IDFA measurement solution. The question marks here are:
    • Will they share this iOS14 data with MMPs in the way that Facebook will for Mobile App Install (MAI) campaigns? We would assume they will, but they might also look to build a solution using the Firebase SDK to drive adoption. The challenge here being that the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework requires permission to call a third-party SDK, which includes both Firebase and MMPs. So either way you may see some users opt-out.
    • What limitations would the use of SKAN enforce on Google’s iOS14 reporting metrics? We have to assume that many of the same ones Facebook has exposed, such as delayed data and less granularity. However, note that, unlike Facebook, Google might still adopt the ATT framework to use IDFAs where possible. If we assume an opt-in of ~20% that will give you some real-time iOS14 data with view-through attribution to use for media mix modelling alongside data from earlier versions of iOS.
  • View-through attribution and performance: Much like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, if we assume that view-through attribution will be lost, 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

It’s hard to estimate what the impact of these iOS14 changes will be on Google UAC campaigns without much, if any, information from Google. However, we would assume that many of the same constraints you will face with Facebook and Twitter campaigns will be faced in your UAC campaigns.

It’s also likely to 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 aggregate data from across the mobile advertising ecosystem and normalise it to automate unified performance insights for mobile UA experts. As we pull data from SANs, DSPs, Ad Networks, Agencies, TV Ads providers, MMPs,  Analytics tools, App Stores and internal sources we’re working with our customers to automate unified performance reports with a single view of performance across Android, older versions of iOS and SKAdnetwork data. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch and we’d be happy to explore solutions for you iOS14 headaches!

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 months 👋

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