Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates could ‘blunt’ marketing tools

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 23 September 2021
Gayle While

Apple’s iOS 15 update includes new privacy features which could significantly impact tools used by advertisers.

The changes, rolled out on Monday, include Mail Privacy Protection which prevents senders from learning whether an email has been opened and hides IP addresses so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them.

The Hide My Email tool allows users to create random email addresses so they don’t have to share their real details with apps or website developers during the account setup and sign in process.

Gayle While, dentsu Media chief digital officer, says the updates will impact brands that are heavily invested in personalised messaging and email marketing.

“With Apple providing consumers with more ways to take control of their personal information and decide who they trust with their data, two noteworthy features, Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email potentially blunt one of the most effective tools we have – email marketing,” While tells AdNews.

“Open rates will become an unreliable metric and Apple email users now have the ability to keep their personal email addresses private, curbing our ability to attribute value to email marketing activity and accurately deliver against existing segmentation.

“It’s another step forward in the much broader privacy-first shift, that as an industry, we need to be proactively preparing for.”

While adds that iOS 15 could also be a “headwind” for adtech companies that are building businesses off email logins and identifiers to join the dots in a cookieless world.

However, the impact these updates will have ultimately rests on how many people actually opt to use them.

The industry has been dealing with significant changes to privacy, most notably the phasing out of third-party cookies, so While says the industry will need to show the same adaptability.

“Thankfully, with every challenge there’s opportunity. These changes will push us to move past the vanity measures of email open rates, and to focus on more meaningful metrics that demonstrate value,” she says.

“It’s also another reason for businesses to focus on building quality first-party data sets.

“Rather than looking at this from the perspective of loss of individual data, it gives us the opportunity to be more creative and use contextual approaches to engage with the right consumers to drive consent.”

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