Apple’s privacy changes – how will they impact marketers?

A red apple.

Apple has previewed new privacy protections in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and watchOS 8, which it hopes will help users better control and manage access to their data. 

The tech firm said these features “represent the latest innovations in Apple’s legacy of privacy leadership”.

Protect data from third parties

In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.

For a number of years, Intelligent Tracking Prevention has helped protect Safari users from unwanted tracking by using on-device machine learning to stop trackers while allowing websites to function normally. This year, Intelligent Tracking Prevention is getting even stronger by also hiding the user’s IP address from trackers. This means they can’t utilise the user’s IP address as a unique identifier to connect their activity across websites and build a profile about them.

Check Up on App Privacy

With App Privacy Report, users can see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days. Users can check whether this makes sense to them, and take action by going to the app in Settings if it doesn’t. Users can also find out with whom their data may be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app is contacting.

Process Audio of Siri Requests on Device

With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users’ requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default. This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording. For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or controlling music.

Enhance Internet Privacy with iCloud+

Apple says iCloud+ combines everything customers love about iCloud with new premium features, including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, at no additional cost.

Private Relay is a new internet privacy service that’s built right into iCloud, allowing users to connect to and browse the web in a more secure and private way. When browsing with Safari, Private Relay ensures all traffic leaving a user’s device is encrypted, so no one between the user and the website they are visiting can access and read it, not even Apple or the user’s network provider. All the user’s requests are then sent through two separate internet relays. The first assigns the user an anonymous IP address that maps to their region but not their actual location. The second decrypts the web address they want to visit and forwards them to their destination. This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit.

Expanding on the capabilities of Sign in with Apple, Hide My Email lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. Built directly into Safari, iCloud settings, and Mail, Hide My Email also enables users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time, helping give users control of who is able to contact them.

iCloud+ expands built-in support for HomeKit Secure Video, so users can connect more cameras than ever before in the Home app, while giving them end-to-end encrypted storage for home security video footage that will not count against their storage capacity. HomeKit Secure Video also ensures that activity detected by users’ security cameras is analysed and encrypted by their Apple devices at home before being securely stored in iCloud.

Mike Herrick, SVP of technology, Airship

“Mobile’s mecca, Apple’s WWDC, just set new rules of consumer engagement that will have best-in-class brand marketers, advertisers and solution providers scrambling to adapt to what will become the new mobile experience in mere months.

“Topping Apple’s hit-list this year were advertisers attempting to circumvent dismal IDFA opt-in rates with device fingerprinting and email-based identity solutions to build user profiles across unrelated websites and apps. Marketers are on notice too, as email tracking pixels join IP addresses and ‘real’ user emails as soon-to-be relics, where the only insight gained depends on users’ clicks and subsequent app and website behaviours. 

“Notifications, which, five iOS versions ago, became the centrepiece experience every time an iPhone was picked up, are set for a less interruptive future federated by machine learning and user Focus settings where less important, non-urgent messages are relegated to a cross-app round-up. The benefits of Apple providing users fine-grained control to manage and balance notifications as mobile’s critical, real-time channel could be massive as brands must adapt to changing user behaviours and genuine, user-centric engagement becomes the focal point with less than worthwhile interruptions fading to the background.”

VP and deputy counsel, John Story, Acoustic

“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 recognises 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. 

“It’s unlikely this shift in Apple’s privacy policy will lead consumers to stop buying Apple products. In fact, I think it’s likely many consumers will see this as a benefit, enabling Apple to position itself with a competitive advantage.

“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 personalised 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.”

Jenny Crook VP, Mobile Product at Jellyfish

“Apple has taken another step to providing end users with transparency and control over their privacy. They believe that privacy is a fundamental human right that requires zero trade-offs. This does mean that the end user should expect a shift of ‘freemium’ services that they are used to receiving, in place of more subscription based apps.

“What’s more, iOS 15 delivers a big blow to customer relationship management (CRM). Firstly, the way in which notifications are used will change, where users can either silence all notifications with a do not disturb mode or group them based on if they are currently working or not. The tracking updated in iOS 14.5 meant that retargeting became significantly harder and this makes it even harder for apps to use push notifications to re-engage with users and cut through the noise.

“The second update is Mail Privacy protection – Apple’s own VPN – where users will be able to hide their IP and limit apps’ ability to retrieve location information; whether iPhone users open an email or not, this will restrict marketeers’ ability to measure the effectiveness of the email campaigns. Finally, the App privacy report will give the user an overview of how apps use data and how frequently they access the phone’s camera and microphone, for instance. Apple is putting privacy at the heart of the user experience – only time will tell if this proves to be a unique selling point, or a step too far that apps are not willing to meet.”

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