Written by Beth Walter, Sr. Product Manager – Digital Marketing
July 28, 2021
If you keep up with this blog, you have now read at length about how Apple’s iOS 14 update contributed to the death of the third-party cookie. The third-party cookie’s ability to track the online actions of users is what previously enabled advertisers to send targeted ads to potential customers based on their behavior.
Well, Apple announced at WWDC21 on June 7 that it will release its newest operating system this fall – and iOS 15 is taking aim at email marketing in much the same way. This new update affects an advertiser’s ability to track who opens, reads, clicks, and takes action on their emails so that they can use that information to send customized, follow-up emails.
It all starts with the famous sign-on screen. Once a user downloads iOS 15 they will be presented with two options:
- Protect my Mail activity
- Don’t Protect my Mail activity
This operating system has already been deployed at the developer level and early data coming in shows an overwhelming 90% of people are choosing to “protect Mail activity.”
Apple’s rationale for making this change centers around their customer first development strategy. And, according to Apple, customers want more privacy.
However, this change, as well as another change we will review later in this blog, is going to wreak havoc on an advertiser’s ability to track who interacts with their emails. Many advertisers use these customer interaction signals to inform next steps. For example, the advertiser may put the customer’s email in a specific targeting bucket that will determine their next communication.
What the Apple privacy changes will essentially do is list all emails as opened at random times. Gone will be the days when you could send an email blast, then log on to your dashboard to see the results as it hit a customer’s inbox.
The update will also block the user’s IP address from the email sender. This makes it more difficult to track whether the customer who received the email went to the website and purchased something or took another action, such as booking an appointment.
Another big change that advertisers will experience with iOS 15 is a customer’s ability to hide their email. Hide My Email is offered as a feature of the new iCloud+ and allows users to sign up for offers online using a randomly-generated, unique email address instead of their actual email.
The offer email is then forwarded to the customer’s real email address without providing any forwarding notification or information to the advertiser. This means the advertiser will have no way to tell if the email address they received was legitimate or even if the email was delivered.
We estimate these new privacy features will affect up to 40% of email deliveries once Apple iOS 15 is downloaded.
Stay tuned for yet another iOS 15 feature that could negatively affect email marketing.
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