Set up Apple Search Ads

Use Adjust's Apple Search Ads integration to track your performance marketing campaigns.


To automatically track installs for Apple Search Ads, integrate Adjust SDK version 4.4.5 (or later) with AdSupport and iAd frameworks.


Differences in approach - Adjust & Apple Search Ads

iTunes ID vs device ID: Apple Search Ads conversions are based on an Apple ID, while Adjust looks at device ID and does not apply cross-device tracking.

Download vs install (first open): Apple Search Ads conversions occur when a user downloads an app, whereas Adjust counts the moment when the app is first opened by an unknown device. An install is counted once per device.

Re-download vs reattribution: Apple Search Ads conversions counts when a user re-downloads an app, whereas Adjust counts reattributions. This is when a device that previously downloaded and opened the app, opens it again from a new source.

Adjust definitions

Reattribution: A device that previously installed the app, re-engages in the app through a new source (i.e. deep link, or Apple Search Ads campaign), and if this user match the inactivity period that was defined by the client in the Adjust dashboard, Adjust will count one reattribution for the new source.

Inactivity period: It is customisable, it define the timeframe during which the user needs to be inactive in the app in order to allow reattribution.

Sessions: Any app open or activity in the app tracked after 30 minutes of inactivity.

Reattribution window: Time between the click and the session that would lead to a reattribution.

Uninstall: Adjust receives information from Apple Push Notification Service that the device uninstalled the app, Adjust counts one uninstall at the date of the last session from that device.

Re-install: Adjust sees a session from a device that was previously attributed to source A with the status “uninstalled”. And if that device opens the app “organically” without any ad engagement, Adjust counts one reinstall for the source A.

Re-install reattribution: Adjust sees a session from a device that was previously attributed to source A with the status “uninstalled”. That device opens the app from a new engagement with source B, Adjust counts one reinstall reattribution for the source B.


  • Apple Search Ads visibility into last-click attribution

Apple Search Ads does not know if a user clicked on an ad served by another partner, between tapping on the Apple Search Ads impression and the download.

In addition, a user could tap on an ad from Apple Search Ads and download the app but not open it. Later, the user could click a different ad from a different source, then open the app afterwards. In this case, Adjust attributes the install to the last click, whereas Apple Search Ads would have already attributed the app as a conversion/download.

  • Last click attribution windows

With Adjust, the standard last click attribution window is 7 days. Apple Search Ads uses 30 days.

  • Downloads vs. app opens

Apple Search Ads statistics counts when a user downloads an app, whereas Adjust only counts when the app is opened for the first time by an unknown device.

  • Reporting timezone differences

Apple Search Ads reporting timezone is based on your account’s location. Adjust reports in UTC.

  • Limit ad tracking

When a user has enabled limit ad tracking (LAT) on their device, Adjust does not receive a response from the Apple Search Ads’ attribution API, thus Adjust will attribute the user as Organic or to another source that has registered a click.

Apple Search Ads may still claim these users and their statistics will reflect these downloads. Adjust estimated that at least 12% of all iOS users have LAT enabled on their devices.

  • Latency

Most users that click on an Apple Search Ads impression immediately download the app. When the app is opened immediately and the Apple Search Ads attribution API is called, the corresponding ad click might not have been processed by Apple Search Ads’ system yet, due to some latency.

Apple Search Ads recommend setting a delay of a few seconds before retrieving attribution data. This helps against the latency between app downloads triggered by a click on an Apple Search Ads impression, and the data processing response to mobile app data analytics platform proving Apple Search Ads to be the source of the download.

  • Re-downloads

If an existing user uninstalls an app, then taps on an Apple Search Ad impression and re-downloads the app, Apple Search Ads will count this as a new download. In this instance, Adjust will only count an install once per device.

Attribution logic


Install Attribution via "Last Click Model"

Attribution to last preceding engagement


Use cases

  • Re-/attributions are tracked automatically upon enabling the SDK in the app
  • Reattributions are influences based on settings enabled in the dashboard
  • Reattribution tracking requires change of attribution source
  • Un-/reinstalls are only tracked when the Un-/Reinstall feature is purchased

Attribution settings

  • Default click-based install attribution window setting = 7 day
  • Majority of install attributions happen within the first 60 minutes after last engagement
  • Accommodates attribution scenarios where apps are not opened immediately after download
  • Helps to streamline attribution settings across
  • channels
  • Default impression-based install attribution setting = 24 hours

Reattribution settings

  • Enable reattribution
  • Default click-based reattribution window setting = 7 day
  • Default inactivity window setting = 7 days
  • Streamline user’s eligibility for reattribution
  • Default impression-based reattribution window setting = 24 hours

Default inactivity window

Reduced inactivity window

Extended inactivity window

Campaign structure for new & returning users

  • An install is tracked once per device per app, multiple times for reattribution
  • Separate ad group structure according to desired targeting - user acquisition vs user engagement
    • Create dedicated ad group to target new users
    • Create dedicated ad group to target returning users
  • Ensuring users that have been acquired as well as reengaged through Apple Search Ads are tracked as reattributions
  • Un-/Reinstall feature enabled, results in reinstalls and reinstall reattributions based on created campaign structure and attribution settings

Campaign structure for returning users

  • Devices can be reattributed multiple times throughout its lifetime
  • Continuously update ad group campaign structure to ensure tracking of user’s reengagement through reattributions
  • Create new dedicated ad group to target returning user groups, duplicating existing ad groups and assigning new name
  • Potentially pause old campaign
  • During analysis consider attribution settings to evaluate campaign results

Provide information for support

Provide the following insights about the attribution settings and activated features on your account:

  • Are you using Adjust's Un-/Reinstall feature?
  • Is reattribution tracking enabled for the app?
  • What attribution settings are set for reattribution tracking?
  • What are the settings for the inactivity window?
  • Are attribution settings set on app level or tracker level?

Best practices checklist

Here, we outline the key concepts and best practices for your integration between Adjust and Apple Search Ads.

  • Ensure correct integration of the ad framework
  • Stay aware of the difference in terminology and attribution logic
  • Check your attribution settings and apply them according to campaign


  • Check your Adjust campaign structure for engagement campaigns
    • Split out “all user” ad group to “new users” & “returning users” and ensure you rename the returning user ad group
    • Rename the “returning user” ad group (if already targeting) and pause the old campaign. We recommend you do this every month.


How does Adjust track installs with Apple Search Ads?

Since API integrations don’t use Adjust tracker URLs, we send SANs every app session our SDK reports. If Apple Search Ads recognizes the activity, they respond with the device identifier and timestamp. Following our own attribution method, Adjust then uses the engagement data from all networks (including non-SANs) to attribute the install to the last tracked source.

Do I need to set up Apple Search Ads in the Adjust dashboard?

No, you don't need to set up any trackers or partner modules in Adjust. Just integrate the Adjust SDK and iOS frameworks in your app, and we can automatically track installs for Apple Search Ads.

What Apple Search Ads campaign data is passed to Adjust?

In Adjust, your Apple Search Ads campaign data automatically appears as:

  • network (top level): Apple Search Ads
    • campaign (sublevel 1): iad-campaign-name (iad-campaign-id)
      • adgroup (sublevel 2): iad-adgroup-name (iad-adgroup-id)
        • creative (sublevel 3): iad-keyword (iad-keyword-id)*

* If the iad-keyword-id is missing, then we didn't receive it from the Apple Search Ads API

**If you want to receive the creative set name and the creative set ID for your Apple Search Ad campaigns, add the {iad_creative_set_name} (creative set name) and the {iad_creative_set_id} (creative set ID) placeholders to your raw data exports. This data does not appear in your Adjust dashboard. 

Why are some of my Apple Search Ads installs missing keyword data at the creative level in Adjust?

Any Apple Search Ads install reported without a keyword (sublevel 3) is an attribution made to Apple's former ad network, iAd (deprecated December 31, 2016). To reduce discrepancies between the Adjust and Apple platforms, Adjust reassigned, and continues to report, all iAd attributions under the Apple Search Ads network.