Apple iOS 15 Launches, Leaving Many Marketers Scrambling
Apple today launched its long-awaited iOS 15 update with Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which has left many marketers scrambling to address new requirements.
Under the new iPhone operating system's configurations, first announced by Apple in June, now iPhone users who also use Apple mail clients with Mail Privacy Protection will have their email images prefetched and cached, causing those emails to register as opened even if the recipient did not physically open the email. MPP prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about their recipients.
These changes mean that newsletter senders will no longer be able to track whether an email has been opened and read. In addition, marketers will lose the ability to track device and location data from these pixels as well.
This will have lasting consequences for marketers who have relied on open rates to determine the success of their email campaigns, rather than through metrics like inbox placement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
Apple currently dominates email client usage at about 40 percent.
Validity, a provider of data quality and email marketing solutions, has responded to the iOS 15 updates by expanding the engagement analytics within its Everest platform. With the Validity Everest platform, marketers can get a more complete view of campaign performance, including metrics such as inbox placement rates and sender reputation signals. This data, combined with metrics deeper in the conversion funnel, such as click-through rates and conversion rates, allow marketers to measure performance beyond opens.
Everest engagement analytics will segment inflated open rate data stemming from Apple Mail and other proxy services from more accurate open rate data originating from other mail client and mailbox providers. The segments will include Apple Privacy Proxy, Google Proxy, Yahoo Proxy, Desktop, Mobile/Tablet, and others.
"With our latest update to Everest, users' existing data will be reorganized for more efficient and actionable insights to ultimately help marketers understand the accuracy and takeaways from the data that's available," said Greg Kimball, senior vice president and global head of email solutions at Validity, in a statement."We are strong advocates for ethical marketing and support initiatives that promote and protect consumer privacy. While this update introduces a shift for marketers, we are committed to ensuring they have the most up-to-date information and expert guidance to confidently make decisions about their email programs."
Wayne Coburn, director of product at Iterable, a cross-channel marketing platform provider, has a mixed view of Apple's changes.
"In the short term, the iOS 15 update will likely have very little impact. However, we expect this to be the first, not the last, step that Apple will take to protect consumer privacy,” he says.
With the iOS update, email deliverability remains a key concern, he, too, shares. "Currently, marketers use the email opens metric to help identify when their messaging might be mistaken for spam. If the open rate for a specific inbox provider like Gmail suddenly drops, then it's an indication that the content is being mislabeled as spam. The loss of opens as a spam signal might tempt marketers to do more spray-and-pray messaging or otherwise engage in activities to beat the spam detection algorithms. This would be bad for consumers and bad for brands, and certainly not in the spirit of the changes that Apple is making."
And this isn't the only change that Apple has made recently on the consumer privacy front. In its iOS 14.5 version Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency, which requires apps to explicitly ask for user permission to track them across websites and to use third-party cookies for collecting and transmitting data about their behavior. Early data shows the vast majority of iOS users have not consented to be tracked.
By and large, though, the industry applauds Apple's privacy moves.
For Coburn, they are a way to make email inboxes "a little safer and more inviting for consumers. We believe these changes will lead to more overall engagement with brands over email and ultimately help marketers drive more value for their brands and customers."