By John Story VP, DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL
Earlier this week, Apple announced a slew of privacy updates during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). With the releases of iOS 15 and MacOS Monterey, which are expected later this year, the ability to track user activity via emails on Apple devices will shift significantly.
Within its Mail app, Apple has decided to discontinue tracking pixels that enable marketers to see when and where an email was opened.
The company will also hide IP addresses so the action of opening an email can’t be connected with other online activity, and users will be able to create unique, random email addresses, sometimes known as “burner emails,” within the Mail app. This is a helpful article from CNBC that breaks down the updates further.
These changes sound incredibly daunting for marketers leading many to wonder, “How will we be able to create personalized campaigns if we don’t know who we’re speaking to?” This is an understandable first reaction but remember: you have other options. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of Apple’s news and what you can do next.
How will brands be impacted?
Brands will still advertise online. You will lose one data set, which is typically used for retargeting, but it’s not the only data set available. Turn to MarTech providers who can help you maximize existing customer data, such as contextual analytics, to uncover user insights.
How will MarTech be impacted?
MarTech vendors will need to get smarter in order to be able to support their customers effectively. By this I don’t mean that they will have to find technological means to subvert Apple’s controls. However, they will need to revisit existing paths (like contextual) and find new paths that enable cross-platform journeys so they can continue uncovering customer insights. Innovation needs to happen to navigate and command the customer journey.
How will the marketing industry be impacted?
Measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns with metrics that are in many ways controlled by a third-party, like email open or click-through rates, isn’t necessarily a best practice. As marketers, we need to think holistically about how to create campaigns that result in the specific actions we’re hoping customers will take — it’s an opportunity to rethink measurement and reporting in the context of customer action.
Looking at the marketing industry as a whole, we need consumer trust to survive long-term and changes like this help consumers build that trust. Consumers are increasingly invested in how their data is collected and used by brands, which Apple clearly recognizes with their new privacy practices. I expect this to spark other companies to consider their own practices, and we may see more industry changes down the line. But for now, Apple’s announcement is ultimately neither a good nor a bad thing for marketers — we just need to adapt, like we always do.
So, what’s next?
For marketers, this means that consumers will only become more invested in how their data is used. That’s why it’s critical to consider not only data privacy, but data ethics — and the MarTech vendors that enable this — as well. By integrating the ethical collection, storage, and use of data into the fabric of your brand, you’ll still be able to create personalized campaigns for your customers, just by leveraging different data sources.
The privacy landscape is constantly shifting, with Apple’s announcement the latest wave we must ride. Keep in mind that while more privacy restrictions seem challenging at first, they will lead to a foundation of trust with customers and ultimately, increased brand loyalty.
If you’re interested in learning more about how the privacy landscape is shifting, register for our upcoming webinar with Forrester and the Cantellus Group.
John Story is Vice President, Deputy General Counsel at Acoustic, where he leads the global go-to-market legal organization and international legal functions for the company. A dual-qualified (California and U.K.) attorney with extensive experience in complex, multi-national commercial and technology transactions, John helps guide companies’ data practices and legal policies. Prior to joining Acoustic, John served as Director of Commercial Operations and AGC at PAX Labs, Inc. and Associate General Counsel, International at GoPro, among other legal advisory roles.