Apple has been a leader in user privacy, providing their customers higher levels of data transparency and access control with each version of their operating systems. This has been a concern for marketers (and large marketing companies) over the last few years as less data is available for targeted ad revenue and conversions.
At their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 7, Apple unveiled new privacy features for their next operating systems to launch this fall. While these privacy features are welcome to customers, they further disrupt user tracking and identity stitching and reduce the ability for marketers to target ads.
What Did Apple Introduce?
Apple’s newest operating systems will introduce privacy features around preventing unique identification of users based on IP address or email. This is accomplished with new features integrated into Apple’s Mail and Safari applications.
Apple’s Safari browser will prevent IP address tracking through two means. The first is a general privacy feature to prevent IP addresses from being sent to data trackers. The second is similar to a VPN, where Apple will redirect browser traffic through anonymized relays so the user’s IP address can’t be verified by any party.
In addition to the Safari changes, Apple Mail will prevent hidden pixels from triggering and sending data on email opening to third-party trackers.
What Is the Expected Impact?
These changes will have a notable impact on targeted marketing. By removing IP addresses, third-party marketing agencies will lose another deterministic data point for uniquely identifying a user. Email addresses and phone numbers will remain as data points that can be leveraged to identify a user and therefore target or re-target them for a campaign.
We believe that using IP address tracking to stitch together a user’s identity will be phased out for Apple devices, and eventually other companies will follow suit.
Furthermore, marketing through directed email campaigns will also be impacted. With less access to know if a user viewed an email from a campaign, there will be less data to perform feedback loops and personalize campaigns for users.
How Can Marketers Prepare?
It’s still too early to understand the full impacts to these privacy features. Between Apple’s recent Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) change, Google’s adoption of more privacy controls, and the changes announced this week, we can deduce that user data will become increasingly limited over the next few years.
The best way to prepare for these features is to reduce the overall reliance on purchased user behavior and identity to serve ads. Targeting users based on third-party systems will become less impactful as users wall off access and data. Instead of hiring a marketing agency to handle and aggregate data from multiple clients, first-party data will become more important for your company to own and maintain in order to more accurately advertise to users that directly engage with your products and services.
These are uncharted waters for marketing leaders, and we’d love to help navigate them together. If you’d like to start a conversation about marketing transformation or MarTech and AdTech opportunities, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.