iOS 17 Privacy: Every Marketer's Worst Nightmare

June 16, 2023
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The Important of Tech Privacy: Only Rising

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the importance of privacy by the market, driven by growing concerns about data breaches, cyber attacks, and the misuse of personal information. One of the key drivers of this change has been the rise of social media and other online platforms, which have enabled people, including iPhone users, to share more information about themselves than ever before.

This increased connectivity and sharing has raised concerns about the privacy and security features of personal information, as well as the potential for abuse and exploitation. Other factors contributing to the increased importance of privacy in tech include the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, social engineering attacks, and the growing awareness of the value of personal data.

As personal information becomes more valuable to businesses and other organizations, including iPhone users, there is a greater need to protect it from theft and misuse through software engineering. Additionally, significant locations remain local and iPhone analytics contribute to the overall privacy landscape.

Your Behavior is Analyzed: from Online to Your Beloved Apple Watch

Furthermore, the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is also raising new privacy concerns. These tools capture everything from your social interactions and digital behavior to health and physical activity (i.e. Apple Watch and iPhone analytics). For iPhone users, significant locations remain local and provide useful location-related information.

To address these concerns, governments around the world are implementing new regulations and laws around data privacy. For example, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides guidelines for how businesses must handle personal data, while the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provides similar protections in the United States. New York is also following suit with user privacy policies.

Overall, the recent increase in the importance of privacy in tech reflects a growing awareness of the risks and challenges associated with the collection, storage, and use of personal data. As technology continues to evolve, there will likely be ongoing efforts to find new and innovative ways to protect privacy and ensure the security of personal information.

Intro to iOS 17's New Privacy Updates

One cannot overlook the significant shifts the digital age has brought forth, particularly in the arena of privacy. This is an issue of increasing importance, with tech companies like Apple taking remarkable strides to guard user information and ensure the utmost security for its user base.

In the vanguard of this change is the newly released iOS 17 (currently in Beta stage) for iPhone users. Apple has introduced new features and tighter privacy measures, placing the user's privacy front and center in its operations. The primary focus of these updates is the substantial limitations placed on Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs), which are essential tools for every company around the globe.

Significant locations remain local, and iPhone analytics prioritize user location-related information. Location services are designed to enhance user experience, providing personalized recommendations for places you visit frequently and protecting your privacy by safeguarding location-related information.

Furthermore, private browsing windows, record detailed information, iCloud connected devices, the Messages app, security researchers, visited locations, and calendar events are all prioritized for enhanced privacy and security measures.

Examples of UTMs include:

  • Password resets
  • Marketing attribution
  • Cross-device user identification
  • User authenticates
  • Double opt-ins

The list goes on...

Apple is the Leading the Charge in Privacy Features

These privacy measures by Apple iOS have not emerged out of the blue; instead, they are a thoughtful response to the mounting public concern over data privacy. While simple privacy features like private browsing tabs, Safari private browsing, Mac's password storage, and the idea of using a two-factor authentication code for apps have been out a while, tech companies are just getting started.

In the age of rampant data breaches and increasing misuse of personal information, these protections offer the public a much-needed sense of safety. But how do these new features impact the other side of the equation – the marketers and businesses relying on such data to streamline their strategies and offerings? The effect of these changes on digital marketing is the crux of our discussion.

Especially for iPhone users, these updates have significant implications. With the introduction of iPhone analytics and location services, Apple aims to provide useful location-related information to its users. While this means that users can now record detailed information about the locations they visit frequently, it also raises concerns about the privacy of this data. However, Apple assures users that this information is securely stored and only accessible on their iCloud-connected devices.

Furthermore, these updates are not just about protecting user privacy, but also about fostering collaboration with security researchers. By allowing security researchers to access visited locations, Apple can work towards enhancing the security of its devices and services.

Overall, these privacy measures are a step in the right direction towards safeguarding user data and empowering individuals to have more control over their privacy.

In-depth Look Into iOS 17 Updates

Apple's iOS 17 software update has imposed significant limitations on UTMs, a key tool marketers rely on to track the success of their online campaigns. UTMs allow marketers to append specific tags to a URL, letting them track where their website traffic is coming from, which marketing campaigns are working, and other essential metrics.

iPhone users should take note of these changes, as they may impact the ability to gather useful location-related information. While privacy sounds great in theory, the reality is every big tech company has your private data, social engagement, and more stored.

Privacy in the 21st century simply doesn't exist. Yet, companies feel the need to project the idea they're focused on privacy enhancements. It's important to understand that significant locations remain local on iPhone analytics and are not stored or shared with iCloud connected devices. These location services are designed to enhance the user experience and provide useful information for those who visit frequently or want to record detailed information about their whereabouts.

Marketing and Product Teams Have a Rude Awakening Ahead

However, with the introduction of iOS 17, Apple has restricted the ability for apps and browsers to access UTM parameters. This means that when a user clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, these tags are stripped from the URL, and the resulting data is not passed on to the website owners or marketers.

The initial rollout of this is the process of only stripping out user identifiers (i.e. user IDs); however, the next step coming is stripping UTMs completely and being completely reliant on Apple's new conversion tracking protocol.

Tech companies can have your data data, but you can't have your data.

In practical terms, this means marketers and businesses can no longer effectively measure the source of their traffic or the performance of specific marketing campaigns for users on iOS 17 devices. This development presents a significant challenge for businesses and marketers that rely heavily on UTM data to inform their marketing strategies and make data-driven decisions.

Link Tracking Protection

Link tracking protection offered by iOS 17 has yet to be released - it's in Beta and is starting with the following applications:

  • Apple Mail
  • Safari Private Browsing
  • iMessage

While this seems minor and helpful as a consumer (just like their new sensitive content warnings, lockdown mode, etc.), this means every email, password reset, and more that you send is going to "break" with key applications consumers use.

Such features might include further restrictions on the use of tracking cookies or UTMs, more stringent requirements for app developers to disclose data collection and usage practices, and enhanced controls to allow users to opt out of tracking more easily.

Private Browsing

Apple had not released further information on private browsing for the future iOS 17. However, Apple is known for enhancing privacy features with every update - we can assume that advanced private browsing features are coming with the launch of iOS 17.

In future iterations like iOS 17, we could expect improved privacy browsing. Such private browsing features like Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which limits cross-site tracking by third-party content providers, and enhanced measures to prevent fingerprinting, a technique used to identify and track users based on device characteristics.

For accurate and updated information about iOS 17 and its private browsing feature, it is recommend to refer to Apple's official announcements and trusted tech news sources.

Apple's Motivations For These Privacy Changes?

Apple's decision to implement sweeping privacy changes with iOS 17 signifies a profound commitment to user privacy and data security, influenced by a myriad of factors ranging from regulatory compliance and public concerns to competitive positioning and trust-building.

Let's review the top motivations Apple has to implement these privacy changes:

1) User Privacy Enhancement

Apple's primary motivation is to enhance user privacy, keeping with their public commitment to be a technology company that prioritizes user data security. Having private browsing capabilities is a key goal for apple.

2) Increasing Public Concern

Apple is responding to growing public concerns about how personal data is tracked, used, and shared by companies online.

3) Regulatory Compliance:

With the evolution of data protection laws globally (like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California), Apple's privacy measures ensure they are at the forefront of regulatory compliance.

4) Competitive Differentiation

By promoting strong privacy standards, Apple differentiates itself from competitors in the tech industry where data privacy has become a pivotal issue.

5) Preventing Data Misuse

The new measures are designed to curb data misuse and protect users from potential privacy breaches.

The Privacy Facade Continues

The new privacy changes rolled out with iOS 17 could have a profound impact on users' privacy, providing them with an enhanced level of data security. By limiting the use of UTMs, Apple is effectively reducing the amount of personal data that apps and websites can track, thereby giving users more control over their own data. This could significantly curtail third-party access to user information, reducing the likelihood of unwanted targeted advertising or potential data breaches.

Consequently, iOS 17 users might experience a more private, less intrusive browsing experience, raising the bar for user privacy across the digital landscape. The caveat, however, is that some free online services, reliant on personalized advertising for revenue, might need to adapt their business models, which could potentially impact the user experience.

In addition to security benefits mentioned above, a few other features an iPhone user will benefit from include:

  • Advanced private browsing tabs - also protecting location data and a user's precise location
  • A new secure journal app - building off the health app features
  • A new sensitive content warning - a sensitive content warning will be particularly beneficial to those under the age of 18
  • Enhanced on device intelligence
  • End to end encrypted features - spotting potential security defects
  • Securely share passwords - increasing security for password protected account(s)
  • Enhanced apple music features and capabilities
  • Enabling lockdown mode during times of need - a huge feature for apple devices
  • Ability to create live stickers and send apple users a live voicemail - making phone calls more personal than ever before.

Impact of iOS 17 Updates on Marketers

The new privacy measures introduced in iOS 17 present substantial challenges to marketers, disrupting the ways they traditionally operate. The most significant hurdle is the restrictions imposed on the use of UTMs. These are key tools used by marketers to track the efficacy of their online campaigns. They allow for the precise measurement of traffic sources and the performance of specific marketing campaigns, enabling marketers to make data-driven decisions and optimize their strategies. With Apple's new restrictions, however, this valuable data becomes inaccessible for users on iOS 17 devices, seriously impairing the ability of marketers to gauge campaign success and determine strategic directions.

Furthermore, these changes have broader implications on personalized marketing—a strategy widely employed by businesses. By limiting the data available to marketers, Apple is effectively restricting the capacity for businesses to deliver personalized advertising to iOS users. This can result in less effective ad campaigns and potentially lower conversion rates. Without the ability to tailor ads to the interests and behaviors of individual users, marketers could face increased difficulty in reaching their target audiences and driving engagement. The shift to a more privacy-centric model in iOS 17, while beneficial for users, necessitates a fundamental rethink of the marketing strategies businesses have long relied upon.

Marketing Strategies That Will Be Affected

  • Data-Driven Advertising: Marketers using data analysis to target their advertising may see a decrease in effectiveness due to reduced access to user behavior and preferences.
  • Retargeting Campaigns: The privacy changes limit marketers' ability to track user interactions, affecting retargeting efforts, where ads are displayed to users based on their previous actions or visits.
  • Conversion Tracking: With restricted access to UTM parameters, it becomes challenging for marketers to track the user journey from ad click to conversion.
  • Personalized Marketing: Personalization, based on users' behaviors, interests, and preferences, could be less accurate due to reduced data availability.
  • Segmentation: Marketers' ability to segment users based on their online behavior and campaign interaction will be affected, potentially impacting the effectiveness of segmented marketing campaigns.
  • A/B Testing: Marketers' ability to conduct thorough A/B tests could be impaired, as less data would be available to analyze the effectiveness of different versions of ads or landing pages.
  • Email Marketing: If UTMs are used in URLs within emails, the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns could be hampered as tracking click-through rates and conversions will be more difficult.

Potential Consequences For Businesses

Apple's iOS 17 changes could usher in far-reaching consequences for businesses and their digital marketing strategies. Primarily, the limitations on the use of UTMs could hamper the ability of businesses to effectively track and measure the success of their digital marketing campaigns. This will make it harder for marketers to understand which campaigns are performing well and which need improvement. The lack of granular user data and the challenges in attributing website traffic and conversions to specific marketing efforts may lead to less informed decision-making. As a result, businesses may find it harder to optimize their marketing spend, potentially leading to less efficient use of marketing budgets.

Moreover, the impact of these changes extends to personalized advertising, a cornerstone of many digital marketing strategies. As personalized ads rely heavily on user data to be effective, the decrease in available user data can significantly affect the efficiency of these campaigns. Reduced personalization could lead to lower engagement rates, fewer conversions, and diminished return on ad spend. It may also hinder businesses from developing a deeper understanding of their customer base, as the lessened availability of user data could reduce the effectiveness of customer segmentation and persona development. Overall, the iOS 17 updates could necessitate a comprehensive re-evaluation and adjustment of existing digital marketing strategies.

Intro to Advanced Marketing Analytics

Advanced marketing analytics refers to the use of modern data analysis tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from large sets of marketing data. Unlike traditional marketing analytics, which often focus on surface-level metrics such as click-through rates or impressions, advanced marketing analytics dive deeper. They utilize sophisticated algorithms and models to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations in complex data sets.

This can include predictive analytics to forecast future trends, customer segmentation to create more targeted marketing campaigns, and multichannel attribution models to understand the customer journey across various touch points. In essence, advanced marketing analytics provide a more holistic, detailed, and forward-looking view of marketing performance, enabling businesses to make more informed, strategic decisions.

Advanced Marketing Analytics v. Traditional Marketing Strategies

  1. Data Depth: While traditional marketing strategies often focus on surface-level metrics, advanced marketing analytics utilizes sophisticated techniques to uncover deeper insights from complex data sets.
  2. Predictive Capabilities: Advanced analytics often employ predictive models that forecast future customer behavior and market trends, a new feature not commonly found in traditional marketing strategies.
  3. Customer Segmentation: Advanced analytics allows for more detailed and dynamic customer segmentation based on a wider range of data, enabling more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns.
  4. Multi-Channel Attribution: Traditional marketing often struggles with attributing results across multiple channels and touch points. Advanced analytics can better handle this complexity, providing a more holistic view of the customer journey.
  5. Real-Time Analysis: Traditional marketing strategies often rely on post-campaign analysis, whereas advanced marketing analytics can provide real-time insights, allowing marketers to optimize campaigns as they are running.

Overcoming Restrictions with Advanced Marketing Analytics

With the right analytics, you can overcome restrictions ethically and legally while improving campaign effectiveness. However, you have to act before iOS 17 and other operating systems wreck your campaigns. With the right technology, you can have both end to end encryption for privacy and major upgrades to your marketing like:

Customer Segmentation: Advanced marketing analytics can create highly detailed and dynamic customer segments based on multiple data points, including purchasing behavior, browsing history, and demographic information. This can lead to more personalized and effective marketing campaigns.

Predictive Modeling: By analyzing past data and trends, predictive models can forecast future customer behavior or market trends. This can help businesses anticipate demand, tailor their offerings, and plan their marketing strategies more effectively.

Attribution Modeling: Advanced analytics can track a customer's journey across multiple channels and touch points, helping businesses understand which marketing activities are driving conversions and sales. This can lead to more efficient allocation of marketing resources.

Real-Time Insights: With the ability to analyze data in real-time, businesses can adjust their marketing strategies mid-campaign to optimize performance. This could mean tweaking ad creative, adjusting bidding strategies, or reallocating budget to higher-performing channels.

Sentiment Analysis: Advanced analytics can assess customer sentiment based on social media comments, reviews, and other forms of feedback, providing insights into customer perception and areas for improvement.

The Future of Marketing: Overcoming Growing Privacy Restrictions

Lets take a look at a few specific tools used in advanced marketing analytics that could be useful with growing privacy restrictions:

  1. Google Analytics 4 (GA4): Google's latest analytics platform focuses heavily on leveraging first-party data and machine learning to provide insights, making it a great tool in the age of increased privacy restrictions. GA4 offers advanced predictive analytics, audience segmentation, and on-site behavior tracking.
  2. Adobe Analytics: This tool provides robust first-party data analytics capabilities, focusing on customer journey analytics, real-time insights, and predictive modeling. It allows businesses to utilize their first-party data effectively while complying with privacy restrictions.
  3. Mixpanel: With the recent addition of marketing attribution and analytics to Mixpanel's world-class product analytics tool, Mixpanel is something every marketer should take note of. It tackles complex business, marketing, and product analytics at once.
  4. Microsoft Clarity: Microsoft Clarity is a free-to-use tool that provides insights about how users interact with a website. With session replays and heatmaps, it offers visualized user engagement data, while strictly adhering to privacy rules by not tracking personally identifiable information.
  5. Salesforce Customer 360: This platform brings together a suite of services allowing businesses to harness their first-party data effectively. From personalized marketing to predictive analytics, Salesforce Customer 360 offers a range of capabilities while keeping privacy at its core.

Future Predictions

The privacy changes in iOS 17 signal a significant shift in the digital landscape that could shape the future of marketing. With a heightened emphasis on privacy, the role of third-party data in marketing strategies is likely to diminish. Businesses will have to adapt, becoming more reliant on first-party data and finding innovative ways to engage and understand their audience within these privacy constraints.

Consequently, we may see a surge in the adoption of advanced marketing analytics tools that can extract deeper insights from limited data sets. Additionally, these changes could foster a more transparent relationship between businesses and consumers, with consumers having more control over their personal data. In turn, this could change consumer expectations, with businesses needing to offer more value in exchange for personal data.

Overall, the iOS 17 privacy changes could drive a shift towards more respectful, informed, and effective marketing practices, where privacy and personalization coexist.

Advice For Marketers Moving Forward

In the wake of iOS 17's privacy changes, marketers must reevaluate and adapt their strategies to thrive in this new environment. A critical first step is to focus on building and maintaining trust with customers by respecting their privacy choices. Make transparency a priority; clear communication about how you handle user data can strengthen customer relationships.

Additionally, leverage first-party data effectively, as this will become an increasingly important asset. Invest in advanced marketing analytics tools that can mine valuable insights from these data sets while adhering to privacy guidelines. Embrace predictive analytics, customer segmentation, and privacy-preserving AI techniques to tailor your marketing efforts and optimize results. Consider exploring partnerships and collaborations that can supplement your first-party data.

Lastly, always stay updated with changes in data protection laws and regulations, ensuring your marketing practices remain compliant. In this changing landscape, adaptability, customer-centricity, and data sophistication are key to continued marketing success.

Wrapping It Up

The launch of iOS 17 has brought with it a wave of privacy updates that pose significant challenges to traditional marketing practices. The new restrictions on the use of Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) limit the ability of marketers to track and attribute user interactions, hindering the effectiveness of data-driven campaigns.

Furthermore, the privacy updates impact the use of third-party data, making personalized advertising more difficult. These changes represent Apple's push towards prioritizing user privacy and data security, which, while beneficial for users, disrupts how marketers have traditionally operated. Businesses and marketers are now tasked with finding innovative ways to connect with their audiences within these new privacy constraints.

Final Thoughts: Balancing Privacy and Effective Marketing

As we navigate through the digital age, striking a balance between user privacy and effective marketing is becoming increasingly crucial. Apple's iOS 17 privacy updates underscore this emerging trend, prompting a profound shift in how businesses approach marketing. While these changes present challenges, they also offer an opportunity to innovate and evolve.

Advanced marketing analytics is a powerful ally in this transition. By leveraging sophisticated tools and techniques, businesses can extract deep insights from limited data sets, achieve more precise customer segmentation, and make accurate predictions, all while respecting user privacy. These tools enable marketers to deliver personalized experiences and achieve marketing effectiveness in ways that are non-intrusive and respectful of privacy norms.

Ultimately, navigating this balance between privacy and marketing effectively is not just about compliance; it's about building trust and strengthening relationships with customers in the long run. With advanced marketing analytics, businesses are well-equipped to thrive in this new era of digital marketing.

Get in touch today to hear about what we are doing at the Revenue Institute to get ahead of these inevitable challenges.


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