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iOS 17 Drops - Privacy Party or Puzzle?

Updated: Jan 23

An Apple screen in black and white

Apple is gearing up to make some big privacy changes with their upcoming platform updates this month. Apple's iOS 17 is set to launch in September after a public beta in July. It brings a new feature that automatically removes tracking links from places like Messages, Mail, and Safari Private Browsing.

The standout feature in Apple's iOS 17 is its move to get rid of "known trackers and fingerprinting." This is meant to give users more privacy and make it harder to identify individuals.

While that's great for users, it's a huge deal for marketers because removing URL parameters could mess with the accuracy of campaign analytics. This change might unintentionally affect things like URL trackers tied to ad measurement, embedded media, social widgets, fraud prevention, bot detection, audience measurement, and the financial support of websites that depend on targeted ads. That's a bit of a problem!

Rae Guimond, who works on strategy and business development at PriceSpider, points out that companies are starting to see things differently now. She says businesses are realizing that consumers really want more privacy and control over their data. So, Apple's decision is in line with what consumers are looking for these days.

What Does This Mean For Marketers?

3 Apple products, computer, laptop and an iPad

This change makes life tricky for marketers in two ways. First, it makes it harder for them to really understand the people they're trying to reach, which makes it tough to run campaigns that hit the mark. Second, it creates a problem in figuring out if their marketing efforts are actually working. This means marketers who rely a lot on this info need to come up with new ways to fill in these gaps.

This isn't the first time marketers have had to deal with challenges from Apple's focus on privacy. In the past, iOS 14.5 gave users more control over sharing data, and iOS 15 shook things up for email marketers by changing how they track open rates.

We don't know exactly how these changes will affect advertising yet, but the industry is keeping a close eye on it. Apple is offering some other tools like private click measurement, but some experts in advertising tech think these alternatives are either too complicated or not something that can work well in the long run.

An iPhone being turned on with the Apple logo on screen

An individual closely aligned with Apple's strategies, who works within the ad-tech sector, was quite open about feeling relieved not to be a website analytics provider in these circumstances.

Looking at the upcoming changes, it might take a while for marketers to figure out exactly how much these changes will affect things. The expected effects aren't thought to be as huge as the consequences of Apple's recent IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) changes. However, during tests, the marketing agency Knak found that when Apple removed URL trackers, it caused errors when people tried to view websites.

In terms of scale, the number of users affected by Apple's changes isn't enormous. Michael Monaco, who is in charge of Marketing Analytics & Insights at Kepler, says that while it's not a huge number, it still shows the limits of measuring things from the user's perspective for broader insights beyond existing customers or first-party data. He points out that only about a third of U.S. consumers use Safari, and only 20% of those go for private browsing.

Monaco argues that the current ways Apple and Google measure and analyze things aren't good enough for really understanding the results of advertising efforts, especially for advertisers who depend on looking at things from the user's perspective. This is just one of many challenges affecting how we measure things.

On the flip side, some experts are staying positive. Nirish Parsad, who leads emerging tech practices at Tinuiti, says that feedback loops have been shrinking for a while, but it hasn't been a total disaster. Despite maybe losing some details, Parsad says these changes match what users want for better privacy. He also reminds us that the industry has handled changes before, even before the digital era started.

As the usual ways of getting feedback slowly go away, Parsad suggests that advertisers need to look at the bigger picture to understand how their advertising efforts are really making an impact. This means digging deeper into how people experience ads and what they do afterward.

Final Words

With things always changing, Apple's iOS 17 is a big deal for the advertising world. While it's great that Apple is really into privacy, it's making life harder for marketers.

To deal with these changes, marketers need to come up with smart ways to connect with their audiences, understand what they're up to, and figure out if their campaigns are working or not.

In the world of online ads, things are always shifting. So, it's important for marketers to be flexible and find ways to keep doing a good job and stay important in this privacy-focused world that keeps on changing.


Well, aren’t we glad you asked! We at DigiCom are obsessive data-driven marketers pulling from multi-disciplinary strategies to unlock scale. We buy media across all platforms and placements and provide creative solutions alongside content creation, and conversion rate optimizations. We pride ourselves on your successes and will stop at nothing to help you grow.


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