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
- Safari Private Browsing
After Apple’s June 2023 press release*, several developers reviewed the upcoming changes and noted the below:
- Apple will be using a static list of defined parameters
- 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.
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.
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