The great Halloween surprise of 2022: SKAdNetwork 4.0 is already here!
Until Monday morning, the iOS 16.1 change that excited me the most was a battery percentage icon that finally worked on my iPhone 12 Mini.
But then SKAdNetwork 4.0 suddenly popped up in the public release…live, fully-formed, and evolved from the original WWDC announcement in some fairly notable ways. The good news is that none of the major improvements have been rolled back: SKAN 4 is far from perfect, but it remains unambiguously better than SKAN 3 in every way.
However, that doesn't mean the updates are quite 'business-as-usual' either. For a more in-depth recap on what changed, you should read one of the numerous 'breaking news' blog posts — these all cover the same basic points, so I'll simply list them out in order of publication:
- Singular: SKAdNetwork 4.0 officially launches for iOS and iPadOS 16.1 (and yes, there are changes)
- Branch: SKAN 4.0 Recap: What’s Changed Since WWDC 2022?
- AppsFlyer: SKAdNetwork 4.0 is out, let’s build your strategy
- Kochava: Apple Releases SKAdNetwork 4.0 with iOS 16.1
- Adjust: SKAdNetwork 4.0 has launched: Here’s everything you need to know
If you're into a deeper analysis, I recommend spending an hour on one of these:
- Mobile Dev Memo podcast: SKAdNetwork 4.0 is live. What does that mean for mobile advertising?
- Branch webinar: SKAN 4.0 Recap: What’s Changed Since WWDC?
So what happens next? No one I've spoken to was expecting this release to happen so soon. SKAN 4 has been 'coming later this year' ever since WWDC in June, and given the complete absence of more recent updates, most of the smart money was on a launch in late Q4 or even early 2023.
The reality is that this new version is essentially a 'system reset', which means a number of things need to happen before advertisers will see benefits:
- Users need to update to iOS 16.1 (easy, certain to happen quite quickly).
- Publisher apps need to be built for iOS 16.1 (easy, also certain to happen).
- MMPs need to support SKAN 4, including advertiser app SDK updates (less easy, but all have announced plans).
- Ad networks need support SKAN 4, including publisher app SDK updates (hard, and very little guidance yet on timelines from most).
The unfortunate reality is that because there is no required timeline from Apple, and the previous versions of SKAN will continue to function just fine for the foreseeable future, we might be looking at an extended ecosystem transition period. The lingering specter of rampant fingerprinting abuses (on which Apple has still not yet cracked down) further erodes the incentive to update quickly. And that's unfortunate, because SKAN 4 is finally approaching 'usable', where previous versions were just painful.
Bottom line: if you want quality, privacy-first measurement, now is the time to go make sure all your partners understand that SKAN 4 support is critical!
PS: I'm not sure who needs to hear this…but no, the postback delay in SKAN 4 is not always longer than previous versions. You can put away those pitchforks now.