Fraud, SKAdNetwork, and iOS 14.5: the definitive guide
For about three seconds when we got the details of how Apple is enabling privacy-safe advertising attribution via SKAdNetwork, we celebrated. Five seconds after that, we regained our sanity.
Why were we so excited initially?
Because the arrival of SKAN meant that Apple was inserting its mobile attribution framework into the iOS mobile user acquisition advertising ecosystem. In doing so, Apple was essentially taking a leading role in determining the validity of conversions. After all, if the platform owner told you an install happened, it happened. And if the platform owner’s technology told you which ad from what network caused that app install … that’s pretty definitive. Fake installs and app installs on emulated mobile devices living in server farms in the cloud seemed to be a thing of the past.
Well, the more things change, the more things stay the same.
Although all of that is true, there are still multiple vectors for fraud to enter the iOS advertising ecosystem even when governed by the SKAdNetwork framework for attributing ad views and app installs. We’ve talked about some of these before, but given that the state of the art is constantly changing — view-through attribution is now a thing in SKAN, just for one example — it’s worth updating again.