New Changes in iOS and Web Could Sink Tracking and Email Marketing

  • Apple’s iOS 17 will remove URL tracking parameters from links altering how marketers follow consumer journeys, but there is a workaround
  • Gain an awareness of the increasing privacy protections enacted around the world and growing restrictions on how marketers use consumer data
  • Discover how recent changes by Apple, Google, and others could make tracking clicks and open rates in email marketing highly unreliable

Increased Privacy for Consumers Will Bring Challenges for Marketers

Apple’s scheduled rollout of iOS 17 in September has marketers anxious, as it will remove URL tracking parameters from links accessed in its Mail and Messages apps, as well as from Safari Private Browsing, making it more challenging for marketers to follow their consumer’s journey.

Secondly, at the same time, legislation such as GDPR, CPRA, and other privacy acts are also greatly restricting how digital advertisers and marketers can use personal data.

Thirdly, Google plans to bring an end to third-party cookies by the end of 2024, forcing marketers to use alternative methods to track users.

Fourthly, all of these things combined are likely to have an impact on email marketing, particularly strategies that are centered on open and click rates.

The good news is there are ways for marketers to meet and overcome these challenges. Let’s dig in and examine these four issues and look at solutions to these challenges one by one.

How ios 17 and Every Update Thereafter Could Affect Your Marketing Efforts

Apple’s iOS 17 will introduce the company’s new Link Tracking Protection feature, which will strip away user-identifiable information from the URL when it is accessed within Mail and Messages apps, and Safari Private browsing.

For marketers, this could make it particularly challenging when it comes to measuring campaign success, as well as understanding specific audiences.

Share of smartphone users that use an Apple iPhone in the United States from 2014 to 2022

Share of smartphone users that use an Apple iPhone in the United States from 2014 to 2022

Apple introduces PCM to help marketers with tracking

URL tracking parameters have been a mainstay for advertisers as a method of following consumers across multiple websites after they have clicked a link. Apple understands this and is not leaving marketers hanging out in the cold without an alternative.

Apple has introduced Private Click Measurement (PCM), a privacy-focused alternative for tracking and attribution, and will make it available for Safari Private Browsing. PCM works by using the browser to record when clicks and conversions occur, then creating a report. For example, this occurs when a user clicks an ad on one site and then takes an action later on the advertiser’s site, such as purchasing a product.

Privacy is safeguarded by strictly limiting what information is included in the report, as well as by submitting reports through an anonymization service after a delay.

Privacy acts around the world: What do they mean for your marketing efforts?

“17 US states have introduced some form of legislation governing the use of personal information as of July 2023 and at least 13 US states have signed or passed privacy legislation.” – International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

In recent years, legislation around the world aimed at protecting consumers and their privacy has been on the rise, with new acts in the works currently and more regulations sure to come.

Some of those include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Australia’s Consumer Data Right (CDR), Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) expected to go into effect in 2023, and the still in progress American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) which is projected to pass before the end of 2023.

Privacy Legislation Tracker Map

Privacy Legislation Tracker Map – 2023

The Key Points of the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Union (EU) on May 25, 2018, and heralded as a privacy game changer as a law aiming to protect the personal data and privacy of individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Overall, the GDPR aims to protect individuals’ privacy and give them more control over their personal data while holding organizations accountable for responsible data handling and processing.

While we won’t go into depth on these points here, we will simply identify the seven key pillars which include: personal data protection, consent, data rights, data breach notifications, data protection officers, accountability, cross-border data transfers, as well as fines and penalties, the latter of which can be up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.

CCPA Key Points

Effective as of January 2020, the consumer privacy law grants Californians the right to know what data is collected and how businesses use that data, as well as the right to opt-out/withdraw consent and the right to have their data deleted.

Is it Goodbye to Third-Party Cookies?

Google announced that it would initiate a phaseout of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser beginning in the first quarter of 2024, and eliminate them by the end of the calendar year. However, there is no need to become alarmed because not having third-party cookies is nowhere near the end of tracking abilities.

According to Cookiebot, there are at least four other methods that can be utilized as a substitute:

  • Local Storage
  • IndexedDB
  • Web SQL
  • Other technologies that can save data on a user’s device from browsers (which is what cookies do).

How privacy changes will challenge email marketing

Both digital advertisers and email marketers are now under restrictions when it comes to the use of personal data.

When we factor in the changes already discussed in this article with iOS 17 and Google’s third-party cookies, the future is cloudy for email marketers who use a strategy that is reliant on open rates and clicks. If you use an automation platform that relies on third-party cookies to track visitors, you could find the platform become unreliable at best, or unusable at worst.

According to MarTech, new data privacy tools could wreak havoc with your tracking by any or all of the following:

  • Making it appear that an email has more opens than it actually does.
  • Hide interactions from your marketing tools.
  • See inflated click rates and reports due to security bots.

In particular, the report warned of errors and problems with Apple Mail, Outlook, and DuckDuckGo’s privacy email inbox.

One strategy to adapt to these changes could be looking beyond open rates and toward engagement to gauge the impact of your email marketing.

Conclusion: Rolling with the Changes

Governments around the world are listening to consumers who want privacy protections, therefore, it’s safe to assume that restrictions will continue to increase to keep bad actors at bay.

However, these changes shouldn’t discourage marketers. As always, creative people will rise to the challenge and develop new tools that will give marketers what they need to be effective while ensuring the security and privacy of consumers. Some of these are already coming to light.

Although Google is phasing out third-party cookies, its AdSense and AdWords products give the company a vested interest in finding and developing anonymous tracking tools that meet the needs of both consumers and advertisers.

In the meantime, it could be a bumpy road in the short term as marketers and advertisers learn to adapt and find alternative methods and tools to accomplish their goals.

One important factor is to remember to stay focused on the intent of consumers and continue with the best practices of intent-based marketing.

Interested in Learning More?

Check out our Free White Paper on The Unbeatable Nature of Intent-Based Advertising or reach out to one of our brand promotion specialists! We pride ourselves on being able to bring partners the exact consumers they’ve been looking for.

Post by marketing

Comments are closed.