At WWDC 2021, Apple announced updates to its main operating system – iOS. And one update stood out to the marketing world more than the rest.
According to Apple…“In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”
So, what does this mean for marketers? Essentially, email marketing just got harder to track. Consider that open- and click-through rates are two of the primary metrics used to measure the success of email marketing campaigns; with this update, open-rates on Apple Mail can no longer be tracked unless the user opts-in. This will also hinder the ability to customize campaigns based on who has and hasn’t opened the email, among other personalization tactics used by email marketers.
And this – despite being an announcement from Apple – is just a small piece of a larger conversation about privacy and its impact on marketing. As we’ve learned in the digital age, personalization based on data is marketing gold… However, privacy is a top concern among consumers and businesses, and it’s becoming more regulated with things like the General Data Protection Regulation, and more recently the California Consumer Privacy Act; not to mention the demise of third-party cookies later this year.
In the new normal, it appears that if marketers want consumers’ data, they need to secure permission (not beg for forgiveness). But will personalized marketing be incentive enough for people to give up their data? I suspect that for the average person, the answer will be ‘no’.
Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection wasn’t the first blow to marketers and likely won’t be the last. But it does send a few clear signals:
• Consumers want and deserve privacy; big businesses are smart to step up before the government steps in. It’s the right thing to do.
• Marketers want and need data that allows them to personalize products, services and experiences; going backward is not a viable option.
• If the past is a predictor of the future, the marketing community and big businesses will find innovative ways to marry consumer privacy and personalization, creating a win-win scenario.