Apple has identified three ways that downloads of mobile applications from the App Store are counted differently, making it difficult for software developers to gain greater insight into how iPhone and iPad owners engage with their apps. The company sought to explain the disparities between third-party measurement companies and Apple’s install counts and engagement metrics, AdExchanger reported.
The first difference results from the Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) feature that Apple added in iOS 10. The setting lets iPhone and iPad users opt out of ad tracking, making it difficult for third-party advertisers to ping Apple’s attribution API.
Apple also identified lag times among some users who download an app and may take a few days to actually open it. About 90% of apps are opened as soon as they’re downloaded, Apple said, but the remaining group takes longer. The final difference comes from re-downloads and app deletion — Apple doesn’t tell developers when apps get deleted so that users aren’t hit with emails begging them to return.
Apple has a history of protecting the privacy of its users, going so far as to deny the FBI from unlocking an iPhone as part of an investigation into a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, in December 2015. The company is in a unique position to collect more data about its users than any other company or government agency based on its large installed base and walled garden approach, and it wants to maintain the trust of its customers who use their phones for private communications.
Still, the company recognizes the possibility to provide more accurate data to app developers who seek customer insights to improve their products and develop stronger relationships with their users. The market has gotten crowded with 2 million apps in the App Store, making customer acquisition and retention a key part of developing a successful app.
Todd Teresi, Apple’s vice president of advertising platforms, said last week at a conference that it’s “not acceptable” that app developers see inconsistencies in measuring downloads, reported AdExchanger. The biggest cause of discrepancies is the Limit Ad Tracking feature, which is used by 15% to 25% of Apple customers. Brand marketers will have to live with those limitations, he said.
However, Apple is taking other moves to cater to app developers. It recently made it easier for iPhone users to rate apps, driving a big increase in reviews while improving the quality of user comments, according to an Apptentive study. The upcoming iOS 11 update will include a completely redesigned App Store, with a card-based layout that could drive app discovery by making easier to scan and access apps.