Supporting partners through the rollout of Apple’s new ATT policies

April 26, 2021

Last week, Apple announced that iOS apps submitted for review on or after April 26th must comply with App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policies and ask for permission when they use certain information from other companies’ apps and websites for advertising purposes, even if they already have user consent. Learn more about how Google is complying with Apple’s iOS 14 policies.

To help you adapt and achieve your campaign goals on iOS, we’re sharing the latest guidance, resources and best practices.

Advertisers promoting web-based conversion goals

As a result of Apple’s ATT policy changes, you will see some updates to the way we report and measure conversion information for ads serving on iOS 14 traffic. Here are some steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition:

1) Understand the impact of ATT on Google Click ID, website and offline conversions

We are no longer sending the Google click identifier (GCLID) for iOS 14 traffic coming from ads on a handful of Google apps. Traffic from other Google sources will not be affected and will continue to include GCLIDs. So you may see a decrease in GCLIDs in your landing page URLs for traffic originating from affected iOS apps. For impacted traffic only:

  • The &gclid={GCLID} will not be appended to ad clicks and the {gclid} ValueTrack parameter will be set to empty text “”.
  • You may see a decrease in reported website conversions.
  • You may see a decrease in reported offline conversions (imported from clicks).

2) Take advantage of Google’s new innovations that can help with measurement on iOS 14

We recently introduced a new URL parameter to help comply with Apple’s policies and help you measure the results of your ads on iOS. This new parameter will help you attribute conversions back to your ad campaigns and works with conversion modeling to give you accurate measurement on iOS.

To support this new parameter, the global site tag (gtag.js), Google Tag Manager (gtm.js) and where a Google Analytics property is linked to a Google Ads account, Google Analytics (analytics.js) will set a new first-party cookie on your domains by default. This cookie will attribute conversions back to ads subject to ATT policies. As always, you can opt-out of first party cookie tracking at any time by disabling conversion linking in your respective configuration.

To prepare for this update, you should ensure that you have the global site tag (gTag.js and/or Google Tag Manager) properly implemented on your site. While most advertisers won’t need to change their website, a small percentage may need to allow arbitrary URL parameters on their website in order to ensure continuity of campaign measurement.

3) Expect performance fluctuations and monitor delivery and bid settings closely

Advertisers running Display, Video and other campaigns promoting web-based conversion goals may see performance fluctuations as Apple’s ATT policies go into effect and as we expand modeled conversions to more iOS 14 traffic. We recommend that you enable audience expansion for remarketing or Customer Match campaigns, and choose to include similar audiences on all ad groups.

Campaigns using Smart Bidding will continue to set bids based on the most accurate measurement available. However, we recommend that you closely monitor the performance and delivery of all campaigns serving on iOS traffic and, if necessary, make adjustments to budgets and Smart Bidding CPA or ROAS targets to help you achieve your goals. For example: If you would like to increase spend, you can raise CPA targets or lower ROAS targets as needed.

You can learn more about how Google is helping partners achieve more accurate measurement in light of industry shifts in this Ads on air episode.

Advertisers promoting iOS apps

Your iOS App campaigns are likely to see fluctuations in campaign volume as Apple’s ATT policies go into effect. For App campaigns for engagement, you will see a significant decrease in reach. We encourage you to closely monitor the performance and delivery of all your iOS App campaigns and, if necessary, adjust budgets and bids to achieve your goals.

Here are some steps you should take to help ensure a smooth transition:

1) Evaluate whether Apple’s ATT prompt is right for your app: Review Apple’s documentation and consult your legal team to determine whether implementing the ATT framework is right for your app.

2) Implement Apple’s SKAdnetwork API: You can easily implement SKAdnetwork solution by upgrading to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase. This will automatically register your apps for SKAdnetwork attribution and help you measure “first open” conversions for users who have accepted the ATT prompt. Alternatively, you can use another SDK that supports SKAdnetwork or implement Apple’s SKAdnetwork API yourself. See here for guidance on Apple’s App Privacy Details while using Google Analytics for Firebase on iOS 14.

3) Consolidate iOS App campaigns and use only tCPI or tCPA bidding: Consolidate to 8 or fewer app install campaigns for each of your iOS apps to maintain optimal performance due to SKAdnetwork’s campaign limitation. If you’re participating in our beta for tROAS campaigns on iOS, you should pause these campaigns and revert to tCPA campaigns.

4) Get reporting insights for your iOS App campaigns: You’ll also see a change in the way we report on conversions. In reporting, we will be expanding modeled conversions from just on Search to other channels as well. This means your conversion column—as well as your install, in-app action, and conversion value columns—may contain modeled conversions. If you want to view reporting data for SKAdnetwork, specifically, you can go to Reporting > Other > SKAdNetwork conversions after Apple’s ATT policies go into effect. This SKAdnetwork reporting data will be in the Google Ads API by the end of this week.

GIF showing navigation to SKAdnetwork reporting data

You can watch this video for more details on preparing for Apple’s update, read about additional ways to plan for performance and privacy in iOS app marketing, and find answers to frequently asked questions about iOS 14.

Posted by Christophe Combette, Group Product Manager, Google Ads

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