What you need to know about iOS 15 updates

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference was held on June 7th. This annual event is often used to announce new updates and products. Apple’s Keynote revealed details about iOS 15, the latest software update for the iPhone and iPad.

Some of these changes are for everyone’s benefit. Still, others will protect the privacy of the user and will again shake up the landscape in terms of how advertising professionals monitor, collect, and measure important user data.

We’ll talk about the iOS 15 update today, what it means to you, and how you can minimize damage to your marketing strategies by the time the iOS 15 launch occurs in the fall.

What is in the iOS 15 Update?

The upcoming iOS release will bring a number of new features, including improvements to FaceTime, maps, Safari, and notifications. While these changes caused some excitement in the marketing world, it was the privacy features that will be implemented soon that really got the attention.

There has been a strong pushback from the public in recent years against technology companies collecting user data. Apple responded to this sentiment by releasing iOS 14.5, a version of the operating system that allows users to opt out of apps tracking their activity for ad-targeting. Although activity tracking was always intended to enhance the user experience, only 4 percent of users allowed their apps to follow them.

Apple quickly realized that Apple users place privacy over targeted advertising content.

This tech giant has embraced this trend even more with its privacy-focused ads and updates that will affect several aspects of the marketing funnel. Especially email services.

iOS15 Privacy updates

Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, said the following after the announcement of iOS 15:

Apple has always placed privacy at the forefront of its work. We strive to create new technologies every year to give users more control over their data and to make better decisions about who they share that data with. The updates for this year include new features that provide users with deeper insights and greater control.

Two main aspects were to be considered when evaluating these privacy features.

Mail privacy protection (MPP)

Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention has been protecting Safari users for years. The newest iOS version strengthens ITP by hiding the IP addresses of users from trackers. It is now impossible to use the IP addresses of users to track them across multiple websites. This makes it difficult to build a useful and complete user profile.

The MPP feature in the Mail App protects all users by stopping senders from using invisible pixels to collect user data. Emails are downloaded first and then opened via a proxy server. The software update will prevent senders from knowing when an email is opened unless iPhone users opt into this tracking.

Three major changes are likely to occur in marketing metrics.

  • As all emails are filtered by the proxy server and “pre-opened,” they will show inflated open rates.
  • All images are “pre-rendered,” making a copy that is sent to Apple Privacy Cache along with the IP address of the general region instead of the exact geolocation.
  • The IP address will not be accurate, preventing precise targeting of time zones or locations.

iCloud Plus

iCloud Plus, Apple’s upgrade to its cloud storage service, allows users to store photos, documents, and notes securely and update them on all Apple devices. Privacy features are included in the new subscription service.

  • ICloud Private Relay- This is similar to a VPN service for iCloud users and encrypts the user’s activity in Safari. It hides both network traffic as well as IP addresses of visited websites. Each user request is sent via two different internet relays. The first server gives the iPhone’s anonymous IP address. The second server then decrypts and sends the web address to the correct destination.

Apple does not control or view the decentralized operating system. The server cannot identify users. Private Relay also prevents “fingerprinting,” which allows companies to track your IP address across the Internet. Private Relay encryption is a threat to ISPs, third-party data brokers, and their ability to gather and sell browsing data.

  • Hide My Email Hide My Email allows users to create burner accounts to prevent spam and to create an extra layer of anonymity. Users can “share unique, randomly generated email addresses which forward to their inbox whenever they want to keep their email address private.” This functionality is integrated into:
    • Safari
    • iCloud
    • Mail

Users can also create as many email addresses as they like. The new feature allows consumers to create new email accounts and lists using proxy email addresses instead of providing their email addresses.

What do these iOS privacy updates mean?

iOS 15 brings a new level of status quo for marketers. Marketers can’t rely on the most efficient techniques to track activity and analyze engagement. The way we measure success has to change in at least two ways.

Deliverability Health

It may be time to reconsider how we define deliverability when it comes to emails. Open rates used to be a good indicator of the health of a mailing list for varying tasks. These iOS changes are likely to impact many aspects of email campaigns.

Standard practices that are no longer relevant or must be updated to provide accurate information include:

  • A/B-testing subject lines to find the most appealing option
  • Segmentation of the audience and targeting based on the last date open
  • Email can trigger automated flows
  • Send Time Optimization
  • Emails with CSS references for interactive emails

Due to this uncertainty, it may be necessary to test your deliverability regularly and focus on other metrics.

Engagement Measures

It may be time to rethink how we measure engagement since we can’t rely on the open rate as a metric for campaign success. Lower funnel metrics, such as:

  • Click Rates
  • Site visits
  • Conversions
  • Purchases

Even these metrics at the top of the funnel that are subjected to third-party data might not be as useful. Marketers must now focus on measuring success in terms of customer actions, which is the ultimate goal of any advertising campaign.

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