- Meta overtook TikTok to claim the top spot in an analysis of mobile media platforms following Apple's SKAN implementation, according to a new report by analytics and attribution platform AppsFlyer. Between the months of July and December 2021, Meta drove a higher scale than all other media sources, while its "quality signals" were highest across in-app engagement for non-gaming apps and in-app purchases for both gaming and non-gaming.
- Though TikTok dropped to No. 2 in the gaming sector, the social video app still ranked No. 5 on the non-gaming apps portion of the list. Google placed third among non-gaming apps, supported by a strong performance in the life and culture category, AppsFlyer found.
- Meta's move to the top spot suggests the company's internal system for SKAN is improving and boosting results for advertisers on its platform following Apple's App Tracking Transparency update in June 2021, which bars iOS apps from gathering tracking data without user permission.
SKAN, also known as StoreKit Ad Network or SKAdNetwork, is Apple's privacy-centric API that helps ad networks and advertisers measure ad activity like impressions, clicks and app installs on an aggregated level. The tech company's ATT framework moves last year continue to challenge marketers investing in mobile apps and ads, as the tracking update significantly limits how they can market and measure their efforts.
As one of the world's biggest mobile ad platforms, Facebook and its parent company Meta have been particularly hard hit by the ATT tweaks, as most users don't consent to tracking. But changes to its targeting systems back in October have helped Meta adjust to the new privacy-focused rules and recover somewhat, AppsFlyer's report suggests.
"Despite its top SKAN ranking, the post-ATT aggregate data reality has proven extremely challenging for Meta," the report notes. "Before ATT, the social networking giant dominated iOS rankings thanks to massive scale and top quality. However, in the new reality, its index volume remains much lower than pre-ATT, while the volume coming from consenting iOS users cannot compensate since most users do not consent to tracking."
Although post-ATT effects were more substantial to iOS apps, the privacy-focused changes also posed an impact to Android for mobile media companies, as 25% of total budgets shifted from iOS to Android from the first half of 2020 to that timeframe in 2021, per AppsFlyer.
"Gaming verticals in both iOS and Android rankings experienced the most fluctuation, as media companies that were once hyper focused on user level data analysis had to completely rewrite their algorithms in the new aggregate data privacy reality. Some media companies reacted faster while others are still struggling, translating into significant instability on the media side."
AppsFlyer analyzed 610 media sources, 25 billion app installs and more than 18,000 apps from July through December 2021 for its report. The SKAN Index included about 240 million postbacks from over 1,800 apps and 32 media sources.