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TikTok Implements Self-Attributing Networks (SAN) to Improve Ad Performance Tracking

With recent research showing that TikTok campaign conversions are radically under-attributed, due to the limitations of last-click measurement methods, TikTok’s now working to implement new and improved ad measurement solutions, which will ensure more accurate reporting of ad campaign performance, and likely drive more TikTok as spend as a result.

The problem with last-click attribution, TikTok says, is that most TikTok users don’t go searching for products straight away, as they’re on the app to be entertained. So they might see an ad for something of interest in-stream, but then they’ll keep on scrolling, but later, the same user might then go looking for that product. Current ad tracking methods have no way of connecting this activity to the initial ad exposure, which means TikTok gets no credit for driving that engagement.

To address this, TikTok’s already announced the rollout of new Attribution Analytics within TikTok Ads Manager, which will help marketers keep tabs on more ad performance measures, over longer periods of time.

On another front, TikTok’s also making “self-attributing networks (SAN)” a requirement for ad partners, which will provide another way to link ad response back to TikTok’s measurement system.

The SAN process essentially matches the user ID on file at the advertisers’ end with conversion data from TikTok, via a Mobile Measurement Partner (MPP).

As explained by TikTok:

TikTok’s Self-Attributing Network (SAN) is a new, separate MMP network integration that gives advertisers better visibility into TikTok’s true contribution to app performance campaign outcomes. Conversions can be more accurately recognized by TikTok and reported in TikTok Ads Manager, without any impact on existing advertiser MMP final attribution analysis.

The process works like this:

  • Anytime someone downloads and opens an app, the SAN registers a unique user ID and app code
  • The SAN process then checks ad activity, and cross-matches that to the user ID
  • If there’s a match, the ad response data is shared between the user and advertiser, via an intermediary, providing more ad response data

So, essentially, it’s a more secure way to provide more ad activity data, which will enable broader attribution of relative ad campaigns.

Which TikTok is confident is a better solution, which is why it’s transitioning all advertisers across to self-attribution through 2023, with legacy MMP integrations to be deprecated at a later date.

How will that impact you? Well, it depends on your ad setup, and whether you’re working with an MMP. TikTok has provided a full rundown of what those working with MMP’s need to know here, but for regular advertisers, who are using TikTok ads direct, it doesn’t seem like it will have any impact.

But it could be a better ad tracking solution. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the technical workings of self-attributing networks here.

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