Apple Search Ads Metrics: How to Crack Limit Ad Tracking & Other Discrepancies

Apple Search Ads metrics adjusted for LAT

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.

If you feel like having all the formulas at hand, download the Formulas Cheat Sheet: it includes ready-to-use formulas for all the metrics covered in this article, as well as the calculation explanation, tips and examples.

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 to the full article.
Inside, you can download the Formulas Cheat Sheet to calculate ROAS, CPA, Revenue, Conversions, etc., adjusted for LAT & other discrepancies.

True Max CPT Bid for Target Cost-per-Action (Cost-per-Goal)

Below is the formula we recommend to gauge the max CPT bid for your Target CPA adjusted for the LAT On traffic. Note that cost-per-action is referred to as cost-per-goal in SearchAdsHQ. 

True max CPT bid (Target CPG) = K * Target CPG * True Tap-to-Goal Rate = K * Target CPG * (Goals + (Goals / LAT Off Downloads Share – Goals) * Q) / Taps

Target CPG is the average amount you are willing to pay for a conversion. Learn how to calculate your target CPG here.  

Q [0.5-1.0] is a decreasing coefficient that accounts for the converting quality of the LAT On users.

K [1.0-1.2] is a correction factor to account for the difference between the max CPT bid you set and the average CPT bid. The average CPT bid is usually about 10-20% lower than max CPT Bid due to the second price auction. For example, if your max CPT bid is $1.00, you are going to spend about 20% less than that – $0.80 per tap averagely. 

Our standard recommendation is to set Q=0.9 and K=1.1. Below is an example of custom column settings to get True max CPT bid for Target CPG = $40:

Apple Search Ads metrics: True max CPT bids (Target CPG)

True Max CPT Bid for Target ROAS

To calculate the max CPT bid for your Target ROAS and account for the LAT On traffic, we suggest using the following formula: 

True max CPT bid (Target ROAS) = K * True Revenue / Taps * 1 / Target ROAS = K * (Revenue + (Revenue / LAT Off Downloads Share – Revenue) * Q) / Taps * 1 / Target ROAS

Target ROAS is the average value of conversions you’re willing to get for each dollar spent on ads. Read how to calculate your target ROAS

Q [0.5-1.0] is a decreasing coefficient that accounts for the converting quality of the LAT On users. 

K [1.0-1.2] is a correction factor to account for the difference between the max CPT bid you set and the average CPT bid. 

Our standard recommendation is to set Q=0.9 and K=1.1. Below is an example of custom column settings to get True max CPT bid for Target ROAS = 150% (1.5):

Apple Search Ads metrics: True max CPT bid (Target ROAS)

True Cost-per-Action (Cost-per-Goal) Adjusted for All Discrepancies

All the formulas above help calculate your key Apple Search Ads metrics with an adjustment for Limit Ad Tracking. LAT is responsible for around 25% of the data reporting mismatch, which makes it a major contributor to the discrepancies.

However,  there are other reasons for the difference in reports, such as re-downloads,  open latencies, etc. Put together, all the discrepancy reasons reach from 30% to 70%, so it makes sense to account for them as well.  

To factor in all the discrepancies in the estimation, all the formulas have to be corrected for the Install Rate. In SearchAdsHQ, this metric measures the difference between the installs tracked by your MMP and the downloads in Apple Search Ads: Install Rate = Installs / Downloads * 100%)

So, to make an adjustment for all the discrepancy reasons, substitute LAT Off Downloads Share for Install Rate in all the formulas above. 

For example, here’s the True cost-per-action (cost-per-goal) formula that takes into account all the discrepancy reasons:

True CPG (all discrepancies) = Spend / (Goals + (Goals / Install Rate – Goals) * Q)

Here, we suggest applying Q=0.8, a bigger decreasing coefficient. Up to 10% of installs may fail due to technical issues, and this coefficient will help account for the loss of them: 

Apple Search Ads metrics: True CPG (all discrepancies)

Knowing how to crack Limit Ad Tracking and other discrepancies is vital to understand your true Apple Search Ads performance and optimize it accordingly. If you want to have all the formulas for adjusted metrics at hand, get the Formulas Cheat Sheet