Thought Leadership

Apple iOs Updates: Why do they matter to marketers?

Dec 31, 2021


In a series of moves meant to promote transparency and privacy, Apple’s most recent updates – iOs 14.5 and iOs 15, have affected how marketers can track consumers, deliver targeted ads, and measure results of their email campaigns.

iOs 14.5 – App Tracking Transparency: Implications for Targeting

When Apple introduced iOs 14.5 in April 2021, the update included App Tracking Transparency (ATT), giving users the power to decide if third parties could track them across other companies’ apps and websites, using their data; including their location, advertising ID, or other identifiers, to serve them targeted ads.

The iOs 14.5 update allows Apple users to opt-out of app tracking in one of two ways:

1. Upon download and opening of a new app

2. Via Settings > Privacy > Tracking and toggling off “Allow Apps to Request to Track”

It’s important to note this update does not stop the ability for advertisers to serve ads to a user that opts-out of tracking, they would still be viable recipients for generic ads, but it does affect how apps like Facebook and Instagram build their audiences.

Prior to the implementation of ATT, apps like Facebook and Instagram could build robust consumer profiles based on user activity occurring outside of their native applications. The data produced by this tracking underpins things like interest and behavior modeling used to create targeting audiences.

In a time when personalization is the key to attracting new consumers and maintaining them, this update hurts the ability to hyper-target new consumers, and re-target existing consumers with personalized ad experiences.

With that said, ATT is only active for Apple users, and Facebook has access to tracking opportunities internally across their owned apps, including Instagram and Whatsapp, allowing them to still tap into information like who users follow, what posts they engage with, and what pages they like (Hurrdat Marketing).

How is Facebook responding to ATT?

In response to ATT, according to Apple Insider, “Facebook believes that ad performance will see fluctuations with the iOS privacy feature in the short-term, but the company doesn’t seem to expect a noticeable long-term impact. It also said that it’s working on new advertising tactics that require less data to measure ad campaign success.” Facebook and many other companies are planning on selling ads using aggregated or anonymized data and have also recommended the following alternative targeting strategies in the meantime:

• Use a broad audience for inclusion
• Use targeting expansion

The downside to their recommendation for targeting a broader audience is that marketers are paying a higher CPA than before. With this increase will come a shift in advertising spend to social apps outside of Facebooks’, like TikTok for a more cost-effective broad audience solution.

iOs 15 Privacy Changes: Implications for Email Marketing

How did email open tracking work prior iOs 15?

With email open tracking enabled, email service providers placed tiny, transparent images (pixels) into each email campaign. The pixel loaded each time the email was opened, which was then measured and reported. These opens helped estimate a contact’s location and time zone, as well as determine the device type and email client.

Following the tune of iOs 14.5 and ATT, iOs 15 included the release of additional privacy features, one of which impacted email. The new feature called Mail Privacy Protection, limits the ability to accurately determine:

• Whether or when an email has been opened
• Where a contact is located when they open it
• The type of device and client a contact is using when they open it

This new feature may affect how marketers measure results of email campaigns and how they can engage email users. However, Mail Privacy Protection will not interrupt general email deliveries. The following will still occur:

• Emails will continue to be delivered to your contacts who use Apple Mail
• Engagement within an email (click activity and click rate) will still be reported for your contacts who use Apple Mail.

If a contact chooses to enable Apple Mail Privacy Protection, Apple Mail will preload pixels, even if a contact hasn’t opened the email. With Apple Mail Privacy Protection enabled, it is likely that all emails present in Apple Mail will be reported as “opened” regardless of the contact’s actual activity, resulting in inflated, inaccurate open rates.

How can marketers track the success of email marketing campaigns moving forward?

At abeo, historically, open rates are just one of the many ways we measure overall performance, in addition to conversion focused metrics.

We recommend taking the following steps for measuring future success:

• Closely monitoring the percentage of Apple Mail users within each campaign to keep a tab on the share of users.
• When analyzing performance, focus on more conversion-focused metrics, like click rate and click-volumes

Contact our team at [email protected] to discuss how you can mitigate the effects of iOs 14.5 and iOs 15 on your marketing initiatives and set yourself up for successful digital sampling campaigns.

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