Apple's IFA vs. IFV: When To Use Which and Why

With the release of iOS 7, Apple officially deprecated the MAC address and therefore, Attribution Analytics can no longer use it as a viable identifier for attribution. Until now, app developers relied on a single identifier (first the UDID, and then the MAC address) to measure users. However, now Apple is giving app developers two identifiers: the Apple Identifier for Advertisers (IFA) and Identifier for Vendors (IFV). But when and where do you use each of these identifiers?

Essentially, you use the IFA for measuring ad clicks and the IFV for measuring app installs. IFA has built-in privacy mechanisms that make it perfect for advertising. In contrast, the IFV is for developers to use internally to measure users who install their apps.

Here are some of the key characteristics for each Apple identifier:

IFA/IDFA
IFV
App/Dev applicability Same across app and developers Different across apps by different developers, but same for apps owned and connected to the same Apple® iTunes® App Store account.
Third-party Attribution Used for app-to-app attribution with third parties. Cannot be used for app-to-app attribution with third parties.
User Changes Changes when IFA reset by user (part of iOS privacy settings), similar to clearing a browser cookie. Changes/deleted when user deletes all apps from a particular developer.
Notes Includes “opt-out” mechanism to enable limited ad tracking (part of iOS privacy settings), essentially disables behavioral targeting. Used to link post-install events to installs (or other points of attribution).
More Info ASIdentifierManager Class Reference identifierForVendor in UIDevice Class Reference

The Attribution Analytics Attribution Process

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Our agreements state that our clients own the data, so our iOS SDK measures the IFA and IFV on their behalf. We use IFA to attribute installs and re-engagement events back to an initial ad click (via TUNE link). For information about app-to-app cross promotion, visit app-to-app cross promotion.

To export your data from Attribution Analytics and import it into your own analytics system, use one of the following three options:

  1. Postback URLs: push each install or event individually to an internal system.
  2. CSV Exports with API: pull batches of install or event logs into an internal system.
  3. CSV Logs on S3: pull batches of install or event logs from a custom Amazon S3™ bucket into an internal system.

To associate the data from Attribution Analytics with the data already in your internal system, use the same identifier in your internal system.

Attribution Analytics and Client System Data Fusion

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If you’re only using Attribution Analytics for install attribution, then you can simply use the IFA. If you’re using Attribution Analytics for install attribution and also event attribution (possibly with event re-engagement), then you should use IFV so you can merge both data sets.

As of May 2014, 88% of iOS users are already running iOS 7.0+ (10% are still running iOS 6.0, and fewer than 2% are running a version earlier than iOS 6.0). Since Apple introduced IFA/IFV with iOS 6.0, users running pre-iOS 6 devices do not have IFA/IFV available for collection, so you may want to support other identifiers in such cases.

For more information about the identifiers that Attribution Analytics uses for attribution, please visit Unique Identifiers for Attribution.

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