The Impact of Apple’s iOS 17 Privacy Update on Marketers

The tech landscape is constantly shifting with the ever-growing speed of innovation. This year, Apple’s newest software update brought a potential game-changer in terms of consumer privacy and individual data tracking that is sure to disrupt traditional marketing strategies. Marketers often feel anxious about Apple’s data collection updates because they tighten their policies each year. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the impact of Apple’s iOS 17 privacy update on marketers.

Apple’s WWDC Summary

At centre stage of this year’s WWDC was the unveiling of Apple’s long-awaited VR headset, Apple Vision Pro. The headset has received a lot of attention, including criticism of its expensive $3,500 price tag. Additionally, the company announced its latest software update, iOS 17, which will be released in September and features a new level of personalisation for apps such as Phone, Messages, and FaceTime.

In the iOS 17 update, Apple announced they will limit access to consumer data. The company is removing URL tracking parameters from links in Mail and Messages apps, as well as from Safari Private Browsing. This move could make it more difficult for marketers to follow the consumer journey accurately.

What is URL Tracking Parameters?

URL tracking parameters, also known as UTM parameters, are simply tags that you add to a URL. When a URL with UTM parameters is clicked, the tags are sent to Google Analytics for tracking. There are five URL tracking parameters, each serving a different function – source, medium, campaign, term, and content. They allow marketers to track the performance of their online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media.

The Implications of Removing URL Tracking Parameters

Apple’s Link Tracking Protection feature now strips user-identifiable information from URLs accessed in Safari Private Browsing, Messages, and Mail while still allowing links to function. In addition to making it more challenging for marketers to understand which audience is clicking on their links, Link Tracking Protection could make measuring campaign performance tougher. Those reliant on data-heavy campaigns must strategise ways to fill in the gap.

The removal of URL tracking parameters would significantly impact marketers as it would hinder their ability to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. URL tracking parameters provide crucial data about where website traffic is coming from, which marketing efforts are driving traffic, and how these visitors are engaging with the site. They allow for a granular understanding of campaign performance across different channels, mediums, and content types. Without this information, marketers would have a much harder time understanding the return on investment of their campaigns, making data-driven decisions, and optimising their marketing strategies for better results.

A man holding an iPhone.

After analysing a public report testing Apple’s Link Tracking Protection, we are confident that it will not have a devastating impact on email marketing if it functions in its beta release as it does in the official release. However, this conclusion is based on speculation that the new tool will search for and remove specific URL parameters.

It’s important to note that the removal of URL parameters in Safari will only affect links accessed on private browsers. This impacts a smaller data subset. Marketers must adjust to Apple’s new privacy changes as they did with iOS 14.5 and iOS 15, which altered the ability for email marketers to track open rates.

It is uncertain how Link Tracking Protection will affect advertising, but any increase in consumer privacy will have consequences.

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