Apple Search Ads Metrics: Limit Ad Tracking & Other Discrepancies

When you assess your Apple Search Ads performance, you deal with data discrepancies to get true metrics, such as installs, ROAS, CPA, Revenue, etc.  

The major contributor to the reporting mismatch is Limit Ad Tracking (LAT). Our recent study with Phiture revealed that the average share of LAT On users is 25%, but for some categories like Social Networking and Books it can reach up to 30%.  

So, how to crack Limit Ad Tracking and other discrepancies? We’ve gathered ready-to-use formulas that can help you adjust your key Apple Search Ads metrics to get a clear picture of your performance. Inside the SearchAdsHQ platform, you can configure such formulas as custom columns and see them right on the dashboard.

Mind that the formulas below don’t account for iOS 14 users. Check up-to-date formulas to calculate True CPA and True ROAS that account for iOS 14 devices here.

True Cost-per-Action (Cost-per-Goal)

Let’s say you optimize Apple Search Ads performance for cost-per-action (CPA). In our platform, this metric is referred to as cost-per-goal (CPG), where a Goal is the most vital of all the conversion actions. The standard formula to get your cost-per-goal is: 

CPG = Spend / Goals

However, this formula doesn’t take into account reporting discrepancies, so the resulting CPG will not be correct.  If you’re willing to have CPG corrected for the LAT On traffic, here’s the formula for you to use:

True CPG = Spend / (Goals + (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share – Goals) * Q)

LAT Off Downloads Share is the discrepancy metric in SearchAdsHQ that shows the percentage of the total downloads represented by LAT Off Downloads. 

LAT Off Downloads Share = LAT Off Downloads / Downloads

This metric is automatically calculated by the platform.

Q is a decreasing coefficient that accounts for the effect where LAT On users may get converted worse than LAT Off users. Privacy-conscious audiences may have a slightly different mindset and behavior on the App Store. 

Q ranges from 0.5 to 1.0. The value for Q depends on the assumed conversion quality of your LAT On users: the worse you think they convert, the smaller Q coefficient you have to use.  

Q = 1.0 implies that LAT On and LAT Off users have similar conversion quality. When you don’t make a correction for their difference (use Q that equals 1.0), the formula above will be simplified:  

True CPG (Q=1) = Spend / (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share)

We usually recommend to factor in Q = 0.9. To have True CPG (Q=0.9) calculated by SearchAdsHQ and view it on your dashboard, configure the following custom formula from the platform popup: 

Apple Search Ads metrics: True CPG

Let’s look at an example  with the following input data: 

  • Apple Search Ads Spend = $500;
  • Goals = 10;
  • LAT Off Downloads Share = 70% = 0.7.
FormulaFormula DescriptionCalculation
CPG = Spend / GoalsCPG calculated with no adjustments for discrepanciesCPG = $500 / 10 = $50
True CPG (Q=0.9) = Spend / (Goals + (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share – Goals) * 0.9)CPG adjusted for LAT. Q = 0.9 True CPG (Q=0.9) = $500 / (10 + (10 / 0.7 – 10) * 0.9) = $36.1
True CPG (Q=1) = Spend / (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share)CPG adjusted for LAT. Q = 1True CPG (Q=1) = $500 / (10 / 0.7) = $35

From the calculations above, you can see that unadjusted CPG is bigger than the True CPGs calculated with or without the Q coefficient: 

CPG ($50) > True CPG (Q=0.9) ($36.1) > True CPG (Q=1) ($35)

You might have multiple important conversions in your app, and it is vital to know True CPGs (and other Apple Search Ads metrics) for each. In SearchAdsHQ,  you can create up to 6 conversion categories per app Trial, Subscription, Purchase, Engagement, Game, Event or Other Conversion. Configure True CPG custom formulas for each, and have the metrics automatically calculated and viewed right there on the platform dashboard.

True ROAS

If you optimize Apple Search Ads performance for ROAS, the standard formula to get the metric unadjusted for the discrepancies is the following:

ROAS = Revenue / Spend * 100%

However, the formula doesn’t provide the true picture of your Return on Ads Spend. ROAS adjusted for LAT can be calculated using  the following formula:

True ROAS = (Revenue + (Revenue / LAT Off Downloads Share – Revenue) * Q) / Spend * 100%

LAT Off Downloads Share is the metric readily available in SearchAdsHQ. The platform automatically calculates it this way – LAT Off Downloads / Downloads. 

If you choose not to correct for the converting quality of LAT On users (Q=1.0), use the following formula:

True ROAS (Q=1.0) = (Revenue / LAT Off Downloads Share) / Spend * 100%

We usually suggest factoring in Q = 0.9: 

Apple Search Ads metrics: True ROAS

Let’s look at an example  with the following input data: 

  • Apple Search Ads Spend = $500;
  • Revenue = $400;
  • LAT Off Downloads Share = 70% = 0.7.
FormulaFormula DescriptionCalculation
ROAS = Revenue / Spend  *100%ROAS calculated with no adjustments for discrepanciesROAS = $400 / $500  *100% = 80%
True ROAS (Q=0.9) = (Revenue + (Revenue / LAT Off Downloads Share – Revenue) * 0.9) / Spend * 100%ROAS adjusted for LAT. Q = 0.9 True ROAS (Q=0.9) =  ($400 + ($400 / 0.7 – $400) * 0.9) / $500 *100% = 111%
True ROAS (Q=1) = Spend / (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share) * 100%ROAS adjusted for LAT. Q = 1True ROAS (Q=1) =  ($400 / 0.7) / $500 * 100%= 114%

From the calculations above, you can see that the unadjusted ROAS is smaller than True ROAS corrected for LAT: 

True ROAS (Q=1) (114%) > True ROAS (Q=0.9) (111%) > ROAS (80%)

True Number of Conversions (Goals)

The number of attributed conversions that you see in your MMPs may be lower because they are reported as organic.  To account for the LAT On traffic and see the true number of conversions that matter to you the most (we refer to such conversions as Goals), use this formula:

True Goals = Goals + (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share – Goals) * Q

If you don’t correct for the converting quality of your LAT On traffic (Q=1.0), use the following formula: 

True Goals (Q=1) = Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share

If you assume your LAT On users get converted significantly worse than LAT Off ones, choose a smaller coefficient from the range [0.5-1.0]. Our standard recommendation is to apply Q=0.9: 

Apple Search Ads metrics: True Goals

True Revenue

The average share of LAT On users is about 25%, which means approximately 25% of revenue from Apple Search Ads can be hidden. Here’s a formula to calculate revenue adjusted for the LAT On traffic:

True Revenue = Revenue + (Revenue /  LAT Off Downloads Share – Revenue) * Q

If you don’t want to take into account the converting quality of your LAT On users (Q=1.0), use this formula: 

True Revenue (Q=1) = Revenue / LAT Off Downloads Share

The applied Q coefficient [0.5-1.0] depends on your particular case, but we usually recommend using Q=0.9: 

Apple Search Ads metrics: True Revenue

True Click-to-Conversion Rate (True Tap-to-Goal Rate)

This rate identified conversion from a tap on your Apple Search Ads ad to the in-app action that matters for you the most, called a Goal in SearchAdsHQ.  In other words, True tap-to-goal rate indicates how many taps you need to get one Goal. To gauge this metric adjusted for the LAT On traffic, use this formula:

True Tap-to-Goal Rate = True Goals / Taps = (Goals + (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share – Goals) * Q) / Taps * 100%

If you don’t want to make a correction for the converting quality of your LAT On users (Q=1.0), use this formula:  

True Tap-to-Goal Rate (Q=1) = (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share) / Taps * 100%

If needed, adjust for the LAT On users’ converting quality and factor in the Q-coefficient.  Our recommendation is Q=0.9:

Apple Search Ads metrics:True Tap-to-Goal Rate

The True tap-to-goal rate is a key part of the formula to gauge True max CPT bid for your Target cost-per-action. 

This is premium content
Please subscribe to our blog to get access