A Big Shake-Up in Marketing: Apple's New Privacy Update
Jun 11, 2021 ● 7 min read
Pew study says that 52% of Americans decided not to use a product or service because of concerns over their data protection. And as more consumers are getting aware of their data, companies are improving their products to protect it.
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At the recent developers’ conference, Apple has announced a new software system update. “Privacy has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning”, said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. Among tons of design and built-in apps improvements, the company announced new drastic privacy features coming to Apple’s devices with the iOS15.
The update scheduled to roll out this fall is taking a big spotlight on consumers’ privacy. And Apple is seriously shaking up how marketers will track the user data through the websites, apps, ads and newsletters.
The end of newsletters?
Many marketing emails embed tracking tools to collect subscriber’s IP addresses and send data to businesses indicating when a specific recipient opens an email. However, the new update on iOS Mail apps will limit marketers’ capability to collect open rate information as it will run images through the proxy servers to defeat tracking pixels.
Apple will allow users to choose what they share with the senders, including the location, IP address and more. Moreover, the company is debuting the "Hide My Email" feature in iCloud, Safari and the Apple Mail app. Users will be able to create single-use, randomly generated email addresses that can be used to forward mail to users’ real accounts. The new feature is intended to limit further businesses’ ability to collect consumer data by email and significantly decrease the rate at which users receive spam mail.
Doubling down on privacy
With the previous update, Apple introduced "App Privacy" labels in their App Store, which allow users to view the data used to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies, including information linked to tracking the identity of the app user. In addition, the iOS15 will allow users to view how apps are using the permissions they have granted them, which third-party domains they contact, and how recently they made contact.
The privacy feature offers users a report ticket for all apps on the device. The updated “App Privacy” could present new challenges for marketers who rely on collecting, storing, and selling different party data for tracking and ad targeting purposes.
Built-in VPN for a private browsing experience
VPN apps usually send the user’s data through the encrypted route, making it almost impossible to track them. However, Apple took the encryption of the browsing data to the next level and introduced "Private Relay".
With the new feature, Safari’s browsing information is encrypted through two different and completely separate relays on details regarding who the user is. While the one route gives users an anonymous IP address, the second one sends out the browsing query to the relevant results. The company claims that “Private Relay” will put the user’s data in the strongbox and won’t be visible to the ISP or Apple itself.
What started as a marketing action - data privacy became a pattern on the newest Apple’s software update. And if tracking and obtaining consumer’s data seemed like a great struggle in the previous software update, iOS15 is taking it even further. After the initial release, marketers won’t obtain personal user information, such as email, IP address, location, and browsing history.
Apple did not announce the new operating system release date yet, but it’s likely to roll out in the early autumn. It could take time for the company to enable system features regarding user’s privacy even after the initial update. For example, it took seven months for iOS14 to roll out the first privacy update, "App Tracking Transparency", to all users. However, the new features will roll out eventually, and it will cause a massive disruption in the advertising and tracking industry.
The growing awareness of user data privacy poses new challenges for marketers as they will have fewer targeting and advertising possibilities. Marketers can shift their advertising towards other operating system users (Android, Windows) or run the ads with decreased engagement and no measurable data inside.