Overcoming Data Discrepancies – Learn the reasons behind it

overcoming data discrepancy

Creating a campaign requires more than market research and tracking your data conscientiously. Every advertiser has faced different matters when it comes to optimization of a campaign; data discrepancies are one of those. They mainly occur due to some contradictory approaches that Apple Search Ads and Mobile Measurement Partners (MMP) act towards reporting. 

Apple Search Ads and MMP reports act as lodestars for SearchAds.com to become more cost-effective and generate high conversion rates to easily engage with the user. SearchAds.com created strong action strategies and simple solutions to increase the efficiency of any campaign. Those actions and solutions are also offering a way to overcome the data discrepancies that may arise.  

In this article, we are going to cover the causes for those data discrepancies and offer alternative ways to overcome those discrepancy problems according to advertisers’ business goals. Before directly jumping to those underlying issues, it is important to understand the term, Limit Ad Tracking (LAT).

What is LAT On?

lat on settings

It is a limitation depending on the willingness of the user to allow their IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers: Apple’s unique ID assigned to each iOS device) for the advertisers.

It is an optional setting for the user.  By default, this setting comes as LAT Off but the users who are more privacy-conscious have a chance to shift this setting to LAT On.

When a user activates LAT On, Apple will not be able to share the users’ IDFA with third parties such as MMP. Those users will still be able to protect their privacy and see the same number of ads, but the ads will be less relevant for those users.

Recently, Apple announced that in 2021 IDFA changes are coming up and with those changes, the number of LAT On users is expected to increase according to industry peers and SearchAds.com portfolio.

Furthermore, since there is not a valid data shared in users in-app conversion events, data discrepancies might occur when it comes to Apple Search Ads and MMP reporting. There is more than one reason behind those data discrepancies and it is important to learn the reasons behind those to scale your campaigns. 

What might cause data discrepancies?

causes of data discrepancy

As a general reasoning, data discrepancies occur due to imparity of install numbers reported on Apple Search Ads and the install numbers attributed by MMP. Accordingly, it can be interpreted that there are mainly three reasons why data discrepancies are increasing when running a campaign; 

  • Different definitions expressed for the term Install by Apple Search Ads and MMP
  • Re-downloads 
  • Installs from users with LAT On users 

Different definitions expressed for the term Install by Apple Search Ads and MMP

One of the reasons why data discrepancies arise is due to the distinctive definition of an Install determined by Apple Search Ads and MMP. Apple Search Ads treats an action as an Install when a user downloads the app; whereas for MMPs action is considered as an Install when the user downloads and opens the app.

These two disengaged definitions might cause the advertiser to deal with data discrepancies since the users who download the app, does not necessarily need to open the app. Therefore, the total number of installs reported by Apple Search Ads and MMP might differ.


Another reason for data discrepancy again shows up from the different approaches of Apple Search Ads and MMP attributions towards re-downloads. MMP records its number of existing users for a certain period, so that when there is a returning user MMP will not register that user as a new one. 

On the other hand, Apple records all the users, no matter if it’s a returning user or a new one.  As a result, the total install numbers reported from Apple Search Ads will be higher than the total install numbers attributed by MMP which will create data discrepancies.

Installs from LAT On users 

lat on users

Among all those factors, the most important factor that causes data discrepancy comes from the installs from users with Limit Ad Tracking(LAT On). 

Even though this setting proves that Apple places emphasis on the user, there is surely a side effect for the advertiser. Reaching the users’ history preferences is considered as one of the tools that help both Apple Search Ads and MMP. 

According to Apple, LAT On users makes up about 30% of the app store users and Apple Search Ads is considered as one of the channels to capture those users. This leaves approximately 70% LAT Off users that MMP can attribute to different ad networks.

When the target includes the users who enabled LAT On, Apple does not grant any access to that user’s information and does not share this information with MMP. Therefore, LAT On users are considered as an important factor for advertisers to make deliberate decisions and to optimize the overall performance of their campaign. For that reason, advertisers should understand how to deal with data discrepancies between Apple Search Ads and MMP. 

How to overcome those data discrepancies?

overcome data discrepancy

Depending on the limitations and goals of the campaign, there are two effective approaches to overcome this; either by minimizing data discrepancies or by working through data discrepancies.   

Advertisers should decide which approach they should be taking according to their different data points. In order to minimize and avoid data discrepancies, advertisers should rely less on estimators so that the measurement of performance and the optimizations will become much easier and trustworthy. This can be achieved through excluding the LAT On and returning users from their targeting.

On the other hand, advertisers whose KPIs have already been achieved mainly focus on scaling their acquisitions by working through data discrepancies and understanding them. This approach can be followed through including LAT On and returning users in advertisers targeting. Although this might create difficulty for measuring the optimal performance, by relying more on estimations, the targeted pool of users will increase and scaling the volume of acquisitions will become much easier for the advertisers. 

So, how can we measure the performance of LAT On users? How efficient is it to rely on those estimations? One of the channels to catch LAT On users is considered as Apple Search Ads because it reports the exact number of users who enable LAT On and LAT Off.  This particular Apple Search Ads report helps the advertisers to have more reliable estimations for possible data discrepancies. By overcoming those data discrepancies, the optimal performance of the campaign is likely to be increased. 

How to estimate the performance of LAT On users? 

As described, Apple Search Ads is considered as a channel that reports the breakdown of installs coming from both LAT On and LAT Off users. There are certain steps that Apple Search Ads takes to make estimations for the calculation of total installs :

Step 1: Calculation of LAT On rate of Apple Search Ads installs: 

            LAT On Rate = LAT On Installs / Total Installs

Step 2: Take the installs and in app-event stats from MMP reports (includes the  LAT Off users’ data by default)

Step 3: Apply LAT On rate to these installs and in-app events to estimate the total number of installs. This simple calculation gives a LAT Coefficient that should be multiplied with in-app conversion data from the MMP report which will result in the estimated number of the campaigns’ performance in Apple Search Ads.

LAT Coefficient = MMP Install / (1- LAT On Rate)

However, there is still a possibility to face data discrepancies after making necessary calculations and finding the total number of installs. This possibility comes from the approach MMP takes towards the users who download the app and not open it. Any additional adjustments are not necessary for such users since they did not open the app, they are not bringing any contributions for the campaign.

SearchAds.com simplified this and created a platform where it can automatically calculate the “LAT On Coefficient” so that the advertiser does not need to apply each calculation separately and saves a lot of time.

Key Takeaways

It is inevitable to face data discrepancies when it comes to the actions taken to optimize the performance of any campaign. In this case, as an advertiser there are some crucial points to take into consideration : 

  • Apple Search Ads and MMP are considered as a proven source to monitor the performance of any campaign. However, the data they demonstrate transparently differ from each other which brings data discrepancy problems for the advertiser.
  • Advertisers need to learn the real causes of those discrepancies to make adjustments accordingly for the sake of their campaigns.
  • The causes mainly arise due to the number of installs coming from LAT On users, re-downloads, and different perspectives towards installs by Apple Search Ads and MMP.
  • There are two effective ways to overcome these discrepancies, either by minimizing or working through them with reliable estimations.
  • To measure reliable results for the total number of installs, LAT On coefficient calculation is required.

If any advertisers would like to run cost-effective campaigns with high conversion rates, SearchAds.com offers automatic calculations to overcome the already existing data discrepancies. Curious to learn more about the tips and tricks to overcome data discrepancies and what SearchAds.com has to offer, schedule a demo with us.

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