How Apple is Changing Digital Marketing Forever

Jun 09, 2021

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off earlier this week with a keynote presentation from Tim Cook jammed to the brim with new updates and features coming to various Apple devices. As with the past few years at WWDC, Apple has focused on user privacy, and continues to use its market position to prevent businesses in industries like ad tech from tracking user activities across websites via Safari. In May 2021, Apple released iOS 14.6, which makes every app explicitly ask for permission to track across apps and websites. To date, 88% of people have opted out.

Below are some key takeaways from WWDC 2021 that will affect marketers and advertisers on iOS apps.

Mail Privacy Protection

Email marketing is the backbone of digital marketing. However, marketing emails are not conducive to user privacy. Most marketing emails contain a range of tech like hidden pixel-sized images that let marketers know when a user has opened an email (one of the most important metrics to measure the effectiveness of email campaigns), and the IP address, and therefore, the approximate location.

In order to make emails rich, more engaging, and more personalized, emails contain remotely hosted images. When a mail program displays an email, remote images are fetched, revealing when, where, and the device the email was opened on. Mail Privacy Protection means the Mail app will now automatically obscure IP addresses and location from these invisible tracking pixels marketers tuck into emails. This also means some dynamic personalization (where the email is personalized at the time of open) will be removed—for example, a retailer showing raincoats to users located in New York on a rainy day. All of this will meaningfully impact the attribution and performance of email marketing. It will also break most orchestration systems—where if the email is unopened, wait a day, and send a variant.

This is a big deal—email is the cornerstone of digital marketing. According to Litmus, Apple email clients represent 47% of all email clients, and with respect to email opens, mobile dominates all other platforms with 49% of all email opens. And on mobile, Apple absolutely dominates with 93.5% of all email opens on mobile from Apple mail clients.

Hide My Email

The email address has evolved to be the one immutable way to establish consumer identity.  As the name suggests, Hide My Email makes it easy for users to hide their genuine email by letting users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private.

Using Hide My Email on Safari, consumers can automatically generate a random new email address when filling in a form to shield their actual email identity. Hide My Email also works right inside the Mail app and offers up an anonymous random email alias when composing a new message.

Private Relay

Private Relay is a new internet privacy service built right into iCloud, allowing users to connect to and browse the web more securely and privately. Every internet connection is encrypted, anonymized, and obscures location from the actual to the regional. No one, including Apple, can see either the consumer or the websites they visit.

Private Relay prevents linking a consumer to their browsing activity and their location. This information is used today to fingerprint a user and build a history of their activity over time. Private Relay will meaningfully impact modern marketing and, in particular, Data Management Platforms (DMP), which are unifying platforms to collect, organize and activate first, second, and third-party audience data from any source, but primarily online. DMPs are the backbone of consumer profiling, data-driven advertising, marketing, and retargeting. Private Relay may break these data harvesting solutions.

App Privacy Report

App Privacy Report (APP) will enable people to understand what’s going on with the apps that they use. It will reveal to people when an app accesses user data and sensors, such as Location, Photos, or Contacts, and find out where and with whom their data may be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app is contacting. Users can check whether this makes sense to them, and take action by going to the app in Settings if it does not.

APP is an extension of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature rolled out earlier this year to block apps from silently offloading or selling user data to advertisers and data brokers.

Safari Extends Privacy Protections

Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) blocks cookies and prevents advertisers from observing and understanding web-behavior. ITP prevents advertisers or websites from following people around the web, and Safari will now include a privacy report showing the trackers blocked by websites. Safari will also push users to the HTTPS version of a website if available.

For more information on how you can tackle App Tracking Transparency, and create a better customer experience across channels, talk to one of our experts here.

Key Takeaways

  • First-party data is key. Systems that build Direct-to-Consumer relationships will thrive, while those that rely on second or third-party data will face huge obstacles when it comes to relevance, context, and personalization of their advertising and marketing campaigns.
  • The mobile app has become a more strategic and important channel for brands to utilize as it provides a direct-to-consumer connection.
  • Brands need to utilize multiple channels and provide a seamless connected experience across those channels to increase consumer loyalty and LTV.
  • Finally, brands need to stop selling consumer data to the highest bidder, and on the flip side, stop buying data from shady sources—great customer experiences are the battleground where brands will win or lose in light of these updates.
About the Author
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Sarah Kelly

Sarah is a passionate marketing professional devoted to crafting thought-provoking content that fuels business growth and success. With over a decade of experience in the ever-evolving marketing world, she brings a strategic and data-driven mindset to her role as SEO.