Apple’s iOS 15 has marketers everywhere worried about the future of email marketing success metrics. Users expect iOS 15, announced this summer, to include mail privacy protection that blocks senders from collecting data through pixels. In addition, the iOS 15 update will hide user IP addresses thus limiting a marketer’s ability to track users’ activity across the web.
In addition to iOS 15, Apple is introducing iCloud+, which replaces its current cloud storage plans while offering new privacy features such as Hide My Email that generates unique random email addresses that protect the user’s identity from marketers. Hide My Email prevents the needing your personal email address when signing up for newsletters or filling out forms on the web. There is also iCloud Private Relay, which encrypts traffic leaving your device with two internet relays to prevent third parties from tracking based on IP address and location.
Beyond those features, Apple Mail will offer Mail Privacy Protection that prevents senders from seeing when recipients opened an email, a change that will force digital marketers to update their KPIs. Instead of using open rates as a metric, marketers will need to focus on link clicks, website clicks, and sales. These metrics are more reliable for identifying conversions than open rates. Forcing marketers to move away from open rates will be a challenge for tracking but might be beneficial for the end-user.
iOS 14 was the beginning of Apple’s move away from third-party tracking, effectively ending intrusive “surveillance marketing,” where marketers collect information about user interactions with other brands.
To compensate for the loss of third-party tracking, marketers need to boost their ability to track first-party data. Websites store first-party cookies directly on the users’ device when they visit a website, while third-party cookies come from websites outside of the one you visit. For example, first-party cookies prevent the cart of an eCommerce website from resetting every time the user adds a new item. Without first-party cookies, users could not buy multiple items in a single transaction. Third-party cookies, on the other hand, track engagement with products across the web and continue tracking once the user leaves the brand’s website. For example, say you bought (or browsed for) tennis rackets. Third-party cookies tell marketers to send you emails and other ads for tennis rackets, knowing you were looking for them recently.
Restricting tracking forces marketers to diversify the platforms in which they advertise to reach people more directly. Rumor has it that Apple is pushing this change because they are building their own ad business. Time will tell…