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How Apple Ios 15 Will Affect Your Online Marketing Activities

After the release of iOS14, the war between online marketers and Apple continues with the launch of Apple’s newest iOS15 update. Apple released iOS 15, as well as iPadOS 15 and MacOS Monterey, on the 20th of September 2021.

It might be useful to understand how the newest update will influence your online marketing activities. How will iOS 15 will affect your Facebook Ads? Will Email Marketing still be useful in the future? Those are the big questions, which we’d love to answer.

Let’s see what’s the whole feud is about!

Source image: Apple.

iOS 15 Features

iOS 15 will give Apple users more insights into how apps access their data. Moreover, users will be better protected against undesirable data collection. Its forthcoming update is meant to prohibit Facebook from tracking browser activities of Apple users and to prevent trackers from detecting whether and when users open emails.

iCloud Private Relay

Up until today, Intelligent Tracking Prevention helped protect Apple users from undesired tracking. With Apples’ iOS 15 update, Intelligent Tracking Prevention is getting even stronger by also hiding the user’s IP address from trackers. Private Relay is a new internet privacy service integrated in iCloud, allowing users to browse more privately. The iCloud Private Relay will be Apple’s version of a virtual private network (VPN).

All the user’s requests will be send through two separate internet relays. The first relay assigns an anonymous IP address, which maps users’ region but not their actual location. The second relay decrypts the web address users are visiting and forwards them to their destination. This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no one could identify both who a user is and which sites they visit. Nor Apple, not the users’ internet provider and not the website itself.

App Privacy Report

App Privacy Report provides Apple users insight into how often each app has used the permission they have previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days. Based on these insights, users can decide whether this makes sense to them. If not, they could take action and change their settings by not allowing certain apps to track data anymore. The App Privacy Report also provide insight into with whom their data may be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app is contacting.

Hide My Email

iOS 15 third feature, Hide My Email, allows Apple users to create unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. Hide My Email enables users to create and delete as many addresses as wished at any time, giving users control of who is able to contact them and who not.

Mail Privacy Protection

Nowadays, email providers are using tracking pixels in emails to collect information about customers’ email activity. For Apple’s Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. iOS15 fourth new feature helps Apple users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and hide their IP address so it cannot be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.

Consequences for Facebook marketing

The more extensive privacy protection is definitely a piece of good news for Apple users, but what about digital advertisers and Facebook? Many businesses rely on targeted Facebook Ads, and that is why Facebook has been strongly opposing this launch. Not to forget, 98.5% of Facebook’s revenue comes solely from advertisements. Plus, it controls 85% of the total social media advertising in the digital marke

Facebook advertisers are already panicking, but Facebook says it has things under control. Even though the update only concerns the iOS 15 users, it shows how Apple is taking more and more steps in protecting the privacy of its users towards the future. While users are appreciating the privacy concern, Facebook and other tracking apps are worried to its core.

The most important consequence for Facebook marketers is that specific targeting is becoming more difficult. Let us explain what this practically means to you.

Personalized targeting is no longer possible

As the new update provides Apple users the possibility to hide their IP address,  may pose a barrier to accurately targeting your Facebook ads based on location. Normally when people browse the web, information contained in their web traffic, such as your DNS records and IP address, can be seen by advertisers. This information could be used to determine a users´ identity and build a profile of their location and browsing history over time.

iCloud Private Relay is designed to protect users´ privacy by ensuring that when they browse the web in Safari, no single party could see both who users are and what sites they’re visiting. Herewith, ads that rely on IP-based location targeting will be less effective. Moreover, as insights into who users are and what sites they’re visiting  seem to disappear, serving personalized ads towards your audiences seems to get harder and harder.

Consequences for email marketing

The new iOS 15 features are not only an obstacle to marketing activities on Facebook, email marketers seem to be affected as well. Let us explain the email marketing activities that will be affected by the iOS15 update:

1. Location targeting is no longer possible

First, as the new update provides Apple users the possibility to hide their IP address,  may pose a barrier to accurately targeting your sent emails based on location. Herewith, some email marketing tactics that rely on IP-based locations will be less effective. Time zone-based email campaigns, which rely on users IP addresses to determine location and matches the timeslot of the email campaigns to recipient’s unique location, may no longer work for Apple Mail users.

2. Open ratios will be distorted

Moreover, your measurements will “skew” due to Apple preloading emails, driving up your email open rates. Open ratios can rise significantly without changing actual engagement. How does this exactly work? As part of the privacy protection, Apple will load tracking pixels on behalf of its users. That means these pixels will load much more often, whether or not the recipient actually opens the email. Essentially, Apple will “open” emails on behalf of its users, before they are being forwarded to the actual recipient. Due to this, the open rate of email campaigns will become 100%. However, it doesn’t take a genius to see this data is far from accurate.

3. Multiple people in one

As iOS 15 enables Apple users to create as many unique, random email addresses as they wish, opening email could be spread across multiple contacts, even if it is the same person. In practice, this means that there can be several ‘contacts’ who open an email, even if only one person exists.

How could online marketers deal with the iOS 15 update?

1. Shift your focus to more reliable metrics

When it comes to the changes at Apple, shift your focus to other more reliable metrics that better reflect actual engagement with your email marketing activities, such as clicks and replies.

The number of clicks and the click-through ratio’s reflect how interesting your email was (unless it’s unsubscribing from the newsletter, of course). In line with that, the opt-out percentages are a great metrics to focus on as well. The more consistent you keep opt-out percentages, the more relevant you are to your target audience. Another interesting metric could be click maps. Many email providers, such as HubSpot and Mailchimp, can show you exactly what is clicked within your email. Last, traffic to your website might be a relevant metric to focus on as well. How many people click through to the website from the mail?

2. Implement UTM codes

By correctly implementing UTM codes, you can still gain insight into the number of visitors you obtain from the website via Google Analytics (if they accept the cookies). A UTM code is a piece of code to the link to your website, which allows you to easily find out the origin of the traffic and the specific campaign. Google Analytics stores the extra information from the UTM code information. This also helps gaining more insights into both Facebook marketing as well as email marketing activities.


According to Apple, it is protecting the interest of its users by reestablishing a better and private data flow. With this one effort, it justifies its marketing line “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”. Remember the update is going to affect only iOS 15 users. So, you need to be vigilant about your data. This will help you adapt to the change eventually. 

Need help with your Facebook marketing or email marketing campaigns?

Feeling overwhelmed by and a bit lost in the new iOS update? We can imagine that tracking and setting up the right campaigns might be challenging, so we are always open to help you further with your email marketing or Facebook marketing campaigns. Need some help with it? Our advertising specialists are always open for a cup of coffee, to get you going.

Mathias Aaftink

Author Mathias Aaftink

Geïntrigeerd door klantgedrag, performance marketing en klantervaring en de manier waarop organisaties daarop inspelen. Met mijn ervaring voel ik me thuis in de wereld van (digitale) marketing en branding. Ik ga nieuwe uitdagingen met veel plezier aan en voel meteen een groot verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel om er een succes van te maken. Projecten waarbij ik mijn ondernemende vaardigheden en mindset kan inzetten geven mij veel energie en dit is waar ik voor u van toegevoegde waarde kan zijn.

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