Prepare for iOS 14 with Branch

The information you need to prepare for an IDFA-less world.

UPDATE — September 3, 2020

Apple Delays IDFA Changes Until 2021

This morning, Apple confirmed that they will postpone required adoption of the IDFA opt-in module until early next year. As a voice of many of the largest advertisers in mobile, we’re pleased that Apple listened to Branch, alongside many others in the space, and made the responsible decision to delay the most disruptive change in iOS 14 until 2021.

However, this is no time to get comfortable.

To learn more about our plans and recommendations for what you should do next, please click below to read our new blog post about this delay.

The Great iOS 14 Reprieve (For Now)

What’s Changing with the IDFA in iOS 14?

The IDFA is Obsolete

As of iOS 14, the IDFA will not be available to advertisers or ad networks unless users grant permission to both the advertiser app and ad network to read it for every new app the user downloads. The IDFA isn’t technically gone, but because very low opt-in rates are expected, it’s safe to assume the IDFA is essentially useless.

When users opt out of IDFA tracking, this diminishes advertisers’ ability to serve personalized and retargeting ads, as well as the ability to accurately attribute their marketing campaigns and understand campaign ROI.

Learn More
What’s Changing with the IDFA in iOS 14?

How iOS 14 impacts the Branch platform

The Branch Advantage

Branch’s linking platform and attribution technology is designed specifically for a world where universal identifiers such as IDFA and GAID don’t exist. By using an industry-unique, anonymous, predictive algorithm that incorporates historical attributions to deliver high accuracy data where there is no universal ID, Branch can deliver superior, more accurate attributions for the majority of your mobile user base. Importantly, we can use this insight to improve accuracy both when making an attribution, and when deciding not to attribute.

Impacted — Customer Changes Required
Area of Impact Data products where IDFA was included (export APIs, webhooks, some analytics data integrations, etc.)
What's Changing

IDFAs will largely disappear from exports and other data integrations.

What Branch is Doing

Branch is working to rebuild data integrations that depend on IDFAs. IDFVs will continue to be available as an alternate identifier.

What You Need to Do

You’ll need to find a new primary key (such as the IDFV) for your internal business intelligence and analytics.
Depending on the specific data integration you use, you may also need to make in-app code updates to pass an alternative identifier.

Area of Impact Data Subject Request API
What's Changing

You won’t have IDFA values available to submit for GDPR/CCPA data deletion requests.

What Branch is Doing

Our Data Subject Request API already supports alternative identifiers, including IDFV and developer_id.

What You Need to Do

You will need to send Branch alternative identifiers (such as IDFV or developer_id) instead of IDFA for all data deletion requests.

Area of Impact iOS paid ads attribution: Self-Attributing Networks (SANs)
What's Changing

The major SAN networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snap) have announced they will initially support only SKAdNetwork for the release iOS 14.

What Branch is Doing

Branch is building support for SKAdNetwork, including updates to our iOS SDKs and a new reporting dashboard. We are also working with the SAN networks to enable support for Branch predictive modeling.

What You Need to Do

You will need to set up SKAdNetwork in your app, or move your ad spend to alternative campaign types or ad networks that support predictive modeling via tracking links.

Area of Impact IDFA collection
What's Changing

IDFAs will only be available after users opt in

What Branch is Doing

In order to give you full control over the user experience, the Branch SDK will not trigger the IDFA permission modal. However, we will still collect and use IDFAs when available if you do choose to trigger the modal.

What You Need to Do

If you want to collect IDFAs, you can implement the permission modal yourself.

Impacted — No Customer Changes Required
Area of Impact Deterministic deferred deep linking
What's Changing

Deterministic deferred deep link matches (+match_guaranteed = true) will no longer be available for the first app session post-install on iOS 14.

What Branch is Doing

Deferred deep linking will still be possible via probabilistic modeling techniques (as it always has been in situations where a deterministic match could not be made). However, these probabilistic links should not be relied upon for user authentication or other critical failure use cases.

What You Need to Do

If you leveraged +match_guaranteed data for use cases such as auto-login from a link, this functionality will stop working on iOS 14 in most cases.
Assuming best practices were used in development, your app should already be set up to gracefully failover in this situation.

Area of Impact Fraud protection
What's Changing

With the industry falling back on probabilistic modeling techniques in the absence of IDFAs, we anticipate that the mix of tactics employed by fraudsters will change. Certain data points Branch currently uses for fraud detection (like Persona age) will become less useful. Most others will be unaffected, however.

What Branch is Doing

Because Branch has broad knowledge of legitimate user behavior across both web and app, our fraud detection engine will have a significant advantage in determining which conversions are valid.

What You Need to Do

Nothing is required from you.

Area of Impact iOS paid ads attribution: Non-SANs
What's Changing

The non-SAN integrations that Branch maintains use Branch tracking links to measure performance. These tracking links will no longer be populated with the IDFA macro.

What Branch is Doing

We’re working with these networks to update tracking links to support predictive modeling in place of IDFAs.

What You Need to Do

Nothing is required if you integrated via the Branch SDK.
Note: if you use a S2S integration with Branch (rare), you will likely need to make updates to pass additional install metadata.

Little or no impact expected
Dashboard reporting and analytics
Our existing reporting functionality will be largely unaffected, and we are working on an SKAdNetwork integration that will ingest data for reporting and provide a user-friendly method for managing conversion parameter values.
Deep linking
Basic deep linking does not rely on IDFAs and will not be affected.
Non-ads products (Journeys, Universal Email, Quick Links, Referrals, Deepviews, Text-me-the-app, QR codes, etc.)
These products do not not rely on the IDFA today, and we do not expect significant impact.
All Android support, including paid ads attribution
Android is not affected.
Query API
Our Query API provides aggregate data, and no impact is expected.


SKAdNetwork to Replace the IDFA

Apple’s attribution solution for if and when users opt out of IDFA is SKAdNetwork. SKAdNetwork allows marketers to track their campaigns to determine which ones led to installs or purchases, but without disclosing granular, user-level data. Advertisers will have to rely on aggregate level data, which shows limited information about a campaign without revealing specific details that could potentially reveal a user’s device ID. Marketing activities like impression tracking, frequency capping, and personalization will be more difficult.

Learn more about how SKAdNetwork affects the mobile industry

Branch's Support for SKAdNetwork

Although we are committed to maintaining device-level data in attribution systems where we can, we’ll be supporting SKAdNetwork in iOS 14 to help support your attribution efforts. Here's what you can expect:
1. SDK updates to send install & conversion claims

We’ve updated the Branch SDK to support sending install and conversion notifications to Apple for SKAdNetwork; specifically registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution() and updateConversionValue(0-63).

Learn more about the steps you need to take to set up SKAdNetwork in your app.

1. SDK updates to send install & conversion claims
2. Aggregation and validation of Apple postbacks

To protect against fraud and add a level of trust to SKAdNetwork data, we will use an Apple-provided cryptographic signature to validate postbacks forwarded to us by ad networks. We will then aggregate the data sent by ad networks and display it on the dashboard in our own analytics section for a convenient one-stop shop for all your data.

2. Aggregation and validation of Apple postbacks
3. Dashboard support for SKAdNetwork data

Our dashboard will serve as one centralized place to view SKAdNetwork attribution data instead of having to log in to separate ad network dashboards. This update will include a new Ads Analytics dashboard dedicated to just SKAdNetwork data, separate from existing user-level data from Branch. You’ll be able to view the total number of installs and conversion events reported by SKAdNetwork, and filter installs/conversions by parameters like ad network and source app.

3. Dashboard support for SKAdNetwork data
Learn more about Branch's support for SKAdNetwork