In recent years, data privacy has been a dominant topic in the technology industry. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple are responding to the growing desire for more transparency by giving people more control over how their personal data gets used.
In April 2021, Apple released a new update to their mobile phone operating system called iOS 14.5. This update implemented a suite of new privacy measures, including App Tracking Transparency, which requires apps to get users’ permission before tracking or accessing their data for advertising purposes. Apple released new transparency tools like the “Privacy Nutrition Label” that explains how a particular website uses data.
This change has repercussions for advertisers, particularly those who use Facebook advertising, as Facebook uses mobile phone data from app users to inform its ad targeting. As of May 2021, only 9% of mobile phone users in the U.S. have opted into App Tracking Transparency.
Though the policy is in its infancy, and it’s impossible to know what the future holds, App Tracking Transparency is already having a ripple effect on the industry. In the long term, it could redefine digital advertising on mobile devices. The takeaway for marketers is that digital advertising is never static. Advertisers must be ready to adapt to the constantly shifting technological landscape. To that end, let’s look at Apple’s follow-up to iOS 14.5 to see what changes are in store for digital advertisers.
What changes will iOS 15 bring?
Apple’s newest operating system will carry over all the recent updates released in iOS 14.5, including the expanded privacy features. In addition, iOS 15 introduces new privacy features that advertisers should consider.
Mail Privacy Protection
Email marketers take note: Attribution is about to get a whole lot more difficult. Marketers typically use attribution pixels to measure the performance of email campaigns like newsletters. When someone opens an email, these pixels automatically download with images. The sender learns which email addresses opened the email, when the recipient opened it, how often they opened it, and even their IP address.
Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection feature hides all information from email senders, blocking attribution pixels outright. However, this change only impacts emails accessed through Apple’s Mail app and not Gmail, Outlook, or any other non-Apple platforms.
App Privacy Report
In addition to Mail Privacy Protection, iOS 15 contains transparency features like Privacy Nutrition Labels. The App Privacy Report is a new section of the iPhone’s privacy settings that lists the types of data your apps can access—like the location and the specific domains where those apps send data.
iCloud subscriber special features
One notable difference between iOS 14.5 and iOS 15 is the introduction of additional privacy features for subscribers to Apple’s iCloud+ service. These paid features include:
Private Relay. A consumer-focused virtual private network that encrypts web traffic and hides browsing data.
Hide My Email. This new feature is for those who want more control over who can email them. It allows users to generate a fake email address, which the sender sees instead of your real personal email address. This feature only works on Safari and Mail apps that are logged into an iCloud email.
With these features out of the way, one question remains.
Should advertisers be worried about iOS 15?
The answer is no.
This latest update will have a relatively minor impact on digital advertisers compared to iOS 14.5. However, that does not mean you can ignore it.
Email marketers should expect to see disruptions in their tracking and attribution. If you can segment your email results to exclude Safari and Mail recipients, you’ll have an easier time understanding your email campaigns’ success.
It’s important to remember that these changes are part of a trend. Security measures like those put in place by Apple are part of a growing trend that is here to stay. Customers expect your ads and landing pages to have top-notch security. Anything less, and you’ll have a harder time getting your customers to trust you.
What can advertisers do to prepare?
The best thing you can do to respond to these changes is to update your security measures across the board. Remember to follow the best practices around the iOS 14.5 update, like using Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement tool to supplement your campaign performance measurement.
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