Apple's iOS changes & it's impact on digital marketing

Our summary of how iOS changes are impacting the world of digital marketing and how marketers can adapt.
Digital Marketing
May 13, 2022

With iOS 14.5, Apple will require users to provide explicit permission for apps to collect and share data. To collect permission, Apple is enforcing a Tracking Transparency Prompt (ATT) in the App Store. Apps that do not adopt the prompt will be blocked from the App Store. Long-term impacts will include reduced tracking capabilities and reduced personalization for users.

This major privacy initiative means that the percentage of iPhone users sharing their unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) with apps will drop from 70% to as low as 10%. The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random identifier assigned to each iOS user that advertisers use to deliver personalized ads. It is also used for tracking and attribution.

''In the short term, iOS 15 privacy changes will accelerate the shift from display to lifecycle marketing. Marketers will become even more dependent on the first touchpoint with a new customer,” Wetzel believes. This change is essentially only the start of an even greater focus on user privacy options for consumers. Wetzel explains that any channel that relies on third-party data for targeting and personalizing email messages will continue to degrade, making it more challenging to acquire new users.


Typically, brands and marketers use a tracking pixel, informing them when a mail user has opened their email. This metric, called open rate, is a key performance indicator email marketers use to inform and direct their strategy. The main impact of Mail Privacy Protection for marketers will be their inability to accurately track open rates.

Apple touts that this feature means “senders can’t link it to your other online activity.” However, you have to consider that a click-through from a marketing email can include URL parameters that would still allow brands to connect browsing activity with a specific user. The loss of signal for marketers is really only within tracking open rates or engagement within a particular email, rather than measuring and personalizing online experiences post-click from an email.

mail privacy protection
Image Source: Adlucent


The real impact to most performance marketers would likely see a disruption to geo-targeting advertising on Google. If you have campaigns that rely on accurate targeting of a users’ physical location, users who are using IPR could either be inaccurately excluded from your geotargeting or inaccurately included. Why would they be inaccurately included? Because the proxy put them in an IP address of your target geographic area causing someone to end up in your campaigns when you don’t want them to be.

We likely won’t see an immediate, pronounced impact on geo-targeted campaigns. As more iOS 15 users enable IPR, we could start to see a lower click-through rate in geo-based campaigns.

To conclude, two of these Apple’s updates this year, have introduced new user-privacy features that disrupted digital marketing. We are now living in a privacy-first world and marketers need to remain agile, diversify their media spend, and take time to truly understand their customers.

While it’s fair to begrudge the loss of accurate tracking, marketers should take this time to build a foundation on a clear understanding of their customers, their unique product cycles, and their high-value touchpoints. It was easy to forfeit these insights to big tech, but that also left many brands vulnerable to the privacy shifts we are experiencing now.

By taking the time to develop a strategic foundation, marketers will become stronger, more resilient, and more effective at connecting with tech-savvy consumers increasingly in control of what, how, and with whom their personal information is shared.

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Ben van Rooy

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Nick Brown

Marketing Director