iOS Update Reportedly Includes New Capability For iAd Attribution

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As part of iOS 7.1, the recent update to its mobile operating system, Apple appears to have added a new feature to its iAd program. This should allow the company to take credit for the app downloads driven by its ads, and allow advertisers to get a better sense of whether campaigns are paying off.

In a company blog post, mobile ad attribution startup HasOffers says there’s no mention of these changes in Apple’s documentation, but there is API code that seems to indicate a change. Here’s how HasOffers interprets the code:

Based on our interpretation, we believe this method will provide insight into whether a user engaged (impression or click) with an ad from iAd, in specific, prior to installing the app. If the user did engage with an ad specifically from iAd, then the “determine App Installation Attribution with Completion Handler” method will return a value of 1 for yes. If the user didn’t engage with an ad from iAd (perhaps the user engaged with an ad from another channel like Google Adwords or didn’t even engage with any ads at all), then the function will return a value of 0 for no.

I’ll spare you my attempt to squint at the code and tell you whether HasOffers’ interpretation is plausible. Instead, let me point out that through its MobileAppTracking product, HasOffers is a leader in mobile ad attribution (though it has also run afoul of Facebook), so this is an area where I’d trust their interpretation.

I’ve reached out to Apple and other companies that work on mobile attribution, and I’ll update this post if any of them get back to me.

ios screen shot

Following iAd’s announcement in 2010, the program seemed to fall off the radar, and pitching advertisers supposedly remains a “tough slog” for Apple.

However, recent reports suggest that Apple is looking to revamp iAd, with an ad exchange (focused on monetizing iTunes Radio) and full-screen ads reportedly in the works. Together with ad attribution, these developments suggest that Apple is expanding beyond the high-end brand advertisers that it initially targeted with iAd, and it’s catching up with the ways in which the mobile ad landscape has evolved.