With the anticipated release of Apple’s iOS17, here are 5 tips to assist marketers to brace for another shift in the way they operate. The ‘Link Tracking Protection’ feature has significant implications for marketing automation platforms, presenting unique challenges but also avenues for innovation.

The iOS17 privacy updates (due to be released September 2023), are designed to curtail tracking parameters in URLs, specifically Apple Mail, Messages, and Safari. The so-called “known trackers” will be stripped away when shared or clicked, leading to a reinterpretation of tracking strategies employed by marketers.

Link tracking protection in Apple Messages, Apple Mail, & Apple’s Safari private browsing

This setting will be automatically enabled within:

  • Apple Mail
  • Messages
  • Safari Private Browsing

After Apple’s June 2023 press release*, several developers reviewed the upcoming changes and noted the below:

  1. Apple will be using a static list of defined parameters
  2. The parameters will more than likely be sourced from: PrivacyTests.org

“Some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across other websites.

Now this information will be removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, and the links will still work as expected.

This information will also be removed from links in Safari Private Browsing.”

After a review of Privacy Tests tracking parameters we can deduce the below will be actively removed:

Parameter  |   PrivacyTests.org Description

 __hsfp      HubSpot tracking parameter

 __hssc      HubSpot tracking parameter

 __hstc      HubSpot tracking parameter

 __s      Drip.com email address tracking parameter

 _hsenc     HubSpot tracking parameter

_openstat     Yandex tracking parameter

dclid    DoubleClick Click ID (Google)

fbclid     Facebook Click Identifier

gclid     Google Click Identifier

hsCtaTracking     HubSpot tracking parameter

mc_eid     Mailchimp Email ID (email recipient’s address)

mkt_tok     Adobe Marketo tracking parameter

ml_subscriber     MailerLite email tracking

ml_subscriber_hash     MailerLite email tracking

msclkid     Microsoft Click ID

oly_anon_id     Omeda marketing ‘anonymous’ customer id

oly_enc_id     Omeda marketing ‘known’ customer id

rb_clickid     Unknown high-entropy tracking parameter

s_cid     Adobe SiteCatalyst tracking parameter

vero_conv     Vero tracking parameter

vero_id     Vero tracking parameter

wickedid     Wicked Reports e-commerce tracking

yclid     Yandex Click ID

What does this mean for Oracle & Salesforce users?

Fortunately, Oracle CX Marketing and Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s tracking parameters do not seem to be listed in the current static list which Apple is rumoured to be using.

This means that post the iOS17 privacy changes, we should see no effects on link tracking on these platforms. 

However, as noted in the table above, this will affect other platforms which you may be leveraging within your Marketing Platform.

Things like Facebook and Google ads will now have these parameters removed which will in turn impact how you track conversions.

There’s still room for plenty of alterations prior to the launch, as that is the purpose of developer betas.

Additionally, Apple has the ability to constantly enhance the LTP settings even following the release.

In the event that Apple does invoke these privacy changes to more platforms and Oracle CX Marketing and Salesforce Marketing Cloud are impacted, additional features like External Link tracking can be implemented which enables redirect links to be used to track a click prior to directing them to the relevant site.

The End Goal: Private Click Measurement

Private Click Measurement (PCM) is a feature that Apple introduced to allow online ads to measure their effectiveness while enhancing a user’s privacy. 

It does this by limiting the information that can be shared across websites when users click on ads or purchase items, which in turn reduces the likelihood of user tracking. 

In the modern world, there are growing concerns over online privacy, Apple is keen to adopt this approach as it helps strike a balance between ad measurement and the user’s right to privacy.

Do you need some help with these changes? 

Our top 5 tips

As Apple places more emphasis on privacy with its iOS17 update, marketing strategies are again set for a significant shift. For marketers, being on top of these changes and ready to adapt is the key. 

By staying informed about Apple’s proposed changes and continuously evaluating current practices, you will be able to pivot and implement new ways to optimise and track your marketing effectiveness. 

While the implications of Apple’s new privacy-focused direction may not be immediately felt by users of platforms like Oracle and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, it’s evident that a shift towards enhanced privacy is underway and a reminder that, in the wild world of modern marketing, change is inevitable!


Understand the changes

Educate yourself on Apple’s new privacy updates, particularly the Link Tracking Protection in Messages, Mail, and Safari.


Review your current trackers

Check if your marketing strategy heavily relies on the trackers listed in Apple’s proposed removal. Note that significant platforms are on the list, including HubSpot, DoubleClick (Google), Facebook, Adobe Marketo, and Mailchimp.


Keep updated

Stay informed about the development status of the iOS17 update, especially during its beta stage.

Also, stay aware of any changes Apple might make to LTP settings post-release.


Plan for alternates

In case your marketing tools come under Apple’s wider privacy change purview in future, prepare for alternate tracking mechanisms.

Explore solutions like External Link tracking and leveraging redirect links.


Look into Private Click Measurement

Learn about Apple’s PCM feature, designed to allow ad measurement while preserving user privacy. Balancing between ad effectiveness and privacy could become a norm in the future, making it vital for marketers to understand.

Marketing Automation Agency Services

Since 2007, Marketing Cube has been a trusted partner for marketing automation clients, specialising in Eloqua. In 2018, we expanded our expertise to include services for Salesforce Marketing Cloud clients. Our team excels at implementing your chosen platform and providing comprehensive agency services.

With a track record of assisting nearly 150 customers across diverse industries and geographies, we offer traditional application support and efficient help desk services.

If you’re seeking agency services, such as strategic guidance, end-user coaching, training, campaign support, and more for Oracle CX Marketing or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, reach out to us today to discuss how we can best assist you.

Hero photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash