What to know about and expect from IOS 15
The new operating system from apple limits the usage of “spy pixels”, limiting the amount of data available to marketers
iOS 15 was announced on June 7 of 2021 and released September 20. IOS 14 made it extremely difficult for brands to target their products with specificity using Facebook’s platform because of the limitations it set on using third-party data for differentiation. IOS 15 has followed the trend of increasing data privacy and consumer protection by increasing mail privacy protection, hiding users’ IP addresses, and introducing a “hide my email” feature for Apple users.
Analytics data from the earlier iOS 14.5 launch already “…suggests that U.S. users choose to opt out of tracking 96% of the time”https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/05/96-of-us-users-opt-out-of-app-tracking-in-ios-14-5-analytics-find/
IOS 15’s mail privacy protection prevents email senders from tracking and collecting data with invisible pixels, also known as “spy pixels”. These pixels allow brands to measure open rates, click-through rates, what types of devices users read their emails on, how long they stayed on the email, conversion tracking, etc. Despite the popularity of these pixels, they have recently come under heat for their “invasive nature.” These pixels are invisible, hence the name, to recipients as they are essentially transparent squares embedded in the code of emails and so there is controversy on their usage. Apple seems to have jumped on the privacy-protection bandwagon by banning their use.
The update also hides user IP addresses, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for third parties to track users. This could make discovering geographic trends and targeting by location things of the past for brands. What’s important to recognize is the implications this has for brands using third parties for their data tracking (Hint: They’re no good). Advertisers will have no choice but to boost their first-party data usage and increase the personalization of emails to collect more precise information and improve interaction by recipients.
Lastly, IOS 15 will allow Apple users to opt in to “hide my email.” It works like this. When users subscribe to newsletters and brands Apple will provide a fake email to said brand. The emails that are sent here will then be forwarded to a user’s personal account, meaning brands will have no knowledge of their recipient’s personal information or a way to track their behavior.
So what does all this mean? Is email marketing dying, or maybe even dead? Probably not for many years to come but email marketers will have to change not only their approach, but also their metrics of success to sustain progress. Personalization of emails has never been more important. Third-party data has never been more useless. The first interaction consumers have with brands is becoming increasingly significant. Open rates will no longer be relevant measurements of success but instead, brands will turn more to metrics like click-through and conversion rates to gauge success. Email marketing is changing…Who will keep up?