Apple has announced new privacy protections in iOS 15 and its other operating systems (macOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8). These aren’t the type of product enhancements that are designed to get headlines as much as make products better. These are significant changes to the operating systems that will profoundly change the way marketers connect and interact with their audience.
Privacy advocates are rejoicing, as they should, but what about businesses? How will these operating system enhancements affect them? Marketers need to start thinking about how their tactics will have to evolve. Those that don’t put some time and effort into updating their strategy to align with these new data privacy protections will find themselves with their access to prospective customers essentially cut off—or at least drastically reduced.
Below we explain what the new protections are and how they will affect marketers.
Apple iOS 15 will include changes in four main areas that marketers must educate themselves on.
Marketers learning of this change may experience a visceral shudder. It means that key metrics like open rate, which are almost universally used to measure the effectiveness of marketing outreach, will no longer be available. Does that mean businesses will have to abandon this type of campaign? Surely not. But it does mean they’ll have to rethink their approach.
For marketers, this means another source of information about users will be eliminated. If marketers were working to connect with their audience in a fairly well-lit “room” previously, the lights will be getting a little dimmer with this update.
The App Privacy Report in iOS 15 changes that. It shows you how often each app has used the permissions you’ve granted it. If the frequency or pattern of activity looks unusual, you can go into Settings to investigate and make changes to access rights as needed.
For businesses that are leveraging access to user information in their marketing campaigns, this report exposes their practices. Will that be a problem? It depends on how aggressively marketers are using that information and whether a user feels “violated” by those intrusions that they were previously unaware of. But the availability of the report likely will result in a significant percentage of users making changes to their privacy settings.
Hide My Email enables users to provide random email addresses to anyone asking for that information, with the feature then forwarding correspondence to the user, effectively keeping their actual email address unknown. iCloud+ also enhances existing support for HomeKit Secure Video. It lets users connect more cameras and also provides end-to-end encryption for stored video. Plus, security camera footage won’t count against their storage capacity.
Here again, marketers will find themselves more “in the dark” about user information and user behavior. For example, if a user decides they no longer want to hear from a business or if the business gets hacked and customer email information is compromised, the user can simply shut down the email address created for these interactions and not have to rely on the business deleting that information from their database. The connection is severed cleanly and immediately, with the company having no easy way to track the user and, perhaps, attempt to re-establish a relationship later.
Does iOS 15 represent nothing but “gloom and doom” for businesses? No, there’s an upside. As many industry observers have noted, when viewed in the right way, the new privacy protections will be an incentive for marketers to reimagine their relationships with their audience and the marketing strategies they use to establish, measure, and maintain those relationships. And, companies that make the effort will set themselves apart from those that don’t.
Marketers today talk about wanting to engage in more meaningful ways with their audiences and to do so with greater transparency. The launch of Apple’s iOS 15 will create the opportunity (and, yes, the obligation) to do exactly that. Plus, similar data privacy enhancements are surely on the way from Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants. Consequently, any improvements made in how a business markets to prospective customers who use Apple devices can be used with other audiences, as well.
In a future post, we’ll provide insights on how marketers can adapt to iOS 15 and continue to engage effectively and profitably with their customers and prospects.
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