Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 15 Privacy Updates

Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 15 Privacy Updates

Apple recently previewed new privacy protection features that will soon (likely fall 2021) be available on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 devices. As we covered in our webinar with SparkPost, third-party cookies are disappearing — and no longer supported by all internet browsers — as consumers demand increased privacy. This shift in the customer experience has placed an even greater emphasis on prioritizing first-party data for not only new customer acquisition, but also ensuring the lifetime value of your customers.

So, what do Apple’s privacy updates mean for your brand’s marketing strategy? Let’s dive into the various components that may be affected.

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection Update

Random email addresses

Apple will allow people to use random email addresses that forward to a real email address, allowing users to protect their real email address from businesses. This is available natively through Safari, iCloud, and Apple’s native Mail application. In fact, this concept has been around for years: Gmail users have been able to use this tactic by adding qualifiers to their existing email address (e.g., blue.shift+newsletter@gmail.com).


Customers may wish to use random email addresses when signing up for your services, which will limit them to accessing your services via Safari, as this option will not be supported on other web browsers or custom apps (unless developers proactively add it or customers keep track of it separately).

As such, the use of random email addresses is most likely going to affect services that provide low utility to a customer, such as using an email address to access a coupon code. It is unlikely that customers will use a random email address when registering for companies that provide high-utility services and long-term engagement, as this will reduce their ability to interact with that brand across multiple devices. After all, even as consumers want greater privacy, they also want even more personalized brand experiences.


At Blueshift, we’ve always encouraged brands to use first-party data with customer consent, as well as providing multiple high-value offerings when requesting personal information so customers are incentivized to use a single email address across brand interactions.


Another important by-product of using random email addresses is the reduced likelihood of syncing audiences to your brand’s social and paid media platforms since the random email address will not be associated with your customer’s profiles on those platforms.


The use of random email addresses will also negatively impact data enrichment services (Experian, Neustar, etc.) that use an encrypted email as a primary identifier, resulting in decreased match rates across all randomly generated emails.

Mail Privacy Protection

Apple will introduce Mail Privacy Protection — anticipated this fall — which will prevent senders from using invisible pixels to track open rates and mask the user’s IP address to prevent senders from knowing the user’s location. This feature will only apply to Apple’s native Mail app on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. Though the Mail Privacy Protection feature will not be turned on by default, it will be highlighted as an option when upgrading to iOS 15.


Mail Privacy Protection will significantly impact open tracking accuracy, which can have several side effects on other downstream processes and decisions. Many marketers use a combination of opens and clicks to measure engagement and refine email distribution lists. This is an important step in email list hygiene, as sending to unengaged customers can wreak havoc on your deliverability and cause your emails to end up in spam. Marketers will need to rely more on click data and other downstream data (such as time on site, transactions, etc.) to determine accurate engagement stats.


Now that Apple will be masking customers’ location information, marketers won’t receive location data from any image loads in Apple’s native Mail app. Marketers who use this data to show relevant image ads in emails will need to adjust their course.


Many email senders offer a feature called Send Time Optimization (STO), which figures out the best time to send an email to customers. This optimization heavily depends on open tracking to generate an accurate score. Unsurprisingly, this will be negatively impacted with the release of Mail Privacy Protection. At Blueshift, we offer an Engage Time Optimization prediction that figures out the best time to send email using a variety of metrics — not just email open rates. The Engage Time Optimization score predicts the likelihood of real engagement rather than just a simple open, making it far less susceptible to the upcoming iOS changes.

Blueshift’s hot take

In response to this news from Apple, brands must adapt and pivot their marketing strategy in order to fully access and intelligently activate their customer data. A crucial component of delivering meaningful, personalized customer experiences is having a platform that can unify and implement your valuable first-party data. Blueshift’s SmartHub Customer Data Platform (CDP) enables marketers to orchestrate engaging user experiences in real-time, meaning your brand will still be able to succeed despite these monumental privacy updates.

Want to learn more about how your brand can prepare for Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates? Connect with an expert at Blueshift today and discover how our SmartHub CDP can help enhance your marketing strategy and put your first-party data first.