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How to use iOS15 privacy updates to your advantage
December 7, 2021
Apple recently integrated a new iPhone update, iOS15, impacting millions of users and challenging the brands trying to market to them. Major privacy changes in the software update have placed restrictions on marketing tactics and data tracking capabilities. What can we learn from these changes and how can brands leverage them to improve strategy and gain competitive advantage?
Key iOS 15 updates
Apple Mail’s new Mail Privacy Protection feature removes IP addresses, blocking user location data and email tracking pixels. This significantly affects email traceability and open rate accuracy. Historically, open rates have been a key metric for email marketing, despite being a vanity metric. This shift is forcing brands to reconsider what user actions and media metrics truly impact their goals. For example, incremental lift in website traffic, landing page views or content downloads resulting from email marketing, are often far more impactful than opens. Think outside the box to set KPIs and supporting metrics that matter to your business.
For iCloud+ premium users, another email privacy tool, 'Hide My Email', creates an anonymous email address for users when registering on a new website or app. This randomly generated account forwards messages to the user’s real inbox while preventing companies from using cross-device tracking. Brands can still reach consumers and maintain deliverability. However, this privacy change does impact tracking abilities when trying to understand how users interact with the brand outside of email. Because of this, brands should shift their marketing focus to delivering highly relevant and useful email content. Less traceability requires more intentional messages. Brands can cut through the noise and cluttered inboxes with strong creative, content, and messaging.
Additionally, Apple unveiled their built-in VPN, iCloud Private Relay (IPR), which provides IP masking for Safari users and anonymizes browser data. This will likely affect targeting capabilities, such as local targeting on Google, since location data will be inaccessible for Safari users. The full impact of this feature, as well as the percentage of user adoption, is still to be determined. Regardless, as consumers become more privacy focused, smart-AI targeting solutions are going to become more critical for the future of addressable advertising. Machine learning can find patterns and correlations to reach your best audiences from a data-driven perspective without the third-party data many are accustomed to.
Entering the consumer-first era
A new age of empowered consumers is upon us. Easy accessibility to privacy features like VPNs are making it simpler for consumers to say no to brands and data collectors. Ultimately, success for marketers now lies in the ability to be flexible and adjust to navigate frequent changes. Tough love from Apple.
Here are three steps brands can take to gain a competitive edge in the new privacy landscape.
1.) Exchange value for first party data
Create messaging that resonates with consumers, making them willing to opt-in. Test and learn to find the channels and strategies with highest receptivity among core customers. Ask questions and test your hypotheses to uncover consumer insights. Use these learnings to create relevant content you can share in exchange for personal information. Some examples of effective value exchange include loyalty programs, coupon codes, e-books, monthly newsletters, and downloadable resources.
2.) Measure what matters, leave vanity behind
Track media metrics that impact your bottom line and forget less relevant vanity metrics, such as open rate and return on ad spend. Adopt more advanced measurement strategies to understand incrementality and directional lift compared to your baseline.
3.) Create diversified, flexible marketing strategies
Stay agile and be open to cross-channel budget fluidity. The changes in Apple’s privacy policies are causing some unknowns in the world of digital marketing. But we do know it's important to proverbially not put all of your eggs in one basket. If a new privacy law can shake your entire marketing strategy or business model, it's time to diversify.
To summarize, agility is key. Marketers must be nimble to navigate privacy restrictions as they continue to roll out. The days of reliance on cookies and cross-device tracking are rapidly diminishing. To succeed, adjust more efficiently and be open to testing and learning. Taking these hurdles in stride will help bulletproof your strategies going forward.