What Apple’s iOS 17 privacy shift means for marketers

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is a highly anticipated event for tech enthusiasts. In this year’s WWDC, held in June, Apple unveiled its much-awaited mixed-reality headset, Apple Vision Pro. However, amidst the excitement, concerns about data collection continue to raise eyebrows among marketers. Apple is tightening its privacy landscape, and one of the significant changes announced during WWDC was related to iOS 17, set to be released in September.

iOS 17: A New Level of Personalization and Privacy

iOS 17 promises a new level of personalization for apps like Phone, Messages, and FaceTime. However, beneath the flashy features lies Apple’s determination to limit access to consumer data. With this update, Apple is removing URL tracking parameters from links accessed in its Mail and Messages apps, as well as Safari Private Browsing. While this move prioritizes user privacy, it could spell trouble for advertisers who rely on URL tracking parameters to follow the consumer journey.

The Impact on Marketers

For years, marketers have used URL tracking parameters to gather valuable data and track consumers across multiple websites after they click a single link. This information has been crucial in informing their targeting strategies and measuring campaign success. However, Apple’s new Link Tracking Protection feature will strip user-identifiable information from these URLs, making it harder for marketers to accurately understand their audiences and measure campaign success.

The Bigger Picture: Privacy Changes Across Tech Giants

Apple’s privacy move is not happening in isolation. Google, too, is implementing changes to enhance user privacy, such as phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome starting in Q1 2024. As both tech giants prioritize consumer privacy, advertisers are faced with new challenges in measuring campaign success and targeting audiences effectively.

Apple’s Privacy-Focused Solutions

To mitigate the impact of Apple’s privacy shift, the tech giant is extending its Private Click Measurement solution. This solution offers a privacy-focused alternative for tracking ad attribution and will be available for Safari Private Browsing. While this is a step in the right direction, some concerns remain. Marketers wonder how they will continue personalization efforts without some of the valuable data points previously gathered from third-party cookies.

Preparing for the Privacy Shift

As marketers prepare for the rollout of Link Tracking Protection, they need to rethink their strategies and adapt to the changing landscape. Some marketers are already analyzing the impact on email marketing, as Apple’s new feature might not have devastating effects, depending on the URL parameters it targets. Nonetheless, marketers should prioritize gaining consumers’ consent for collecting first-party data and review their reliance on third-party data.

Apple’s iOS 17 privacy shift marks another step in the evolving landscape of user data protection. Marketers must remain flexible, agile, and open-minded, embracing the test-and-learn approach to navigate the challenges and opportunities arising from privacy changes. The implications of these privacy moves are yet to be fully revealed, but by staying proactive, marketers can position themselves to succeed in this new era of consumer privacy. As tech giants continue to prioritize user privacy, marketers need to be prepared for further changes in the future and be ready to adapt their strategies accordingly.

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