Group Vice President, Client Services

Navigating iOS 17 & Its Impact on Digital Marketing

Apple’s iOS 17 is the newest iOS update focused on providing users with enhanced privacy protection and control over their data. While the update includes new emojis, stickers, and FaceTime messages, it also promises "even greater protections against trackers” and is poised to once again shake up the digital marketing industry. As brands aim to stay connected with their customers and discover new ways to reach them, our team at Rise is sharing what iOS 17 means for marketers today and how brands can continually future-proof their audience strategies.

Apple's Mission: Enhanced Privacy and Reduced Tracking

Apple's commitment to user privacy has been powerfully evident in its more recent software updates, catapulting forward with iOS 14 in 2020. iOS 17 continues this privacy-first trend by introducing new measures to curtail unapproved tracking of users across the internet. 

The most impactful update from iOS 17 for digital marketers is the removal of link tracking parameters from URLs shared in Mail, Messages, and Safari's private browsing mode. Some websites add extra information (link tracking parameters) to their URLs in order to track users across other websites. When a tracking parameter is detected in a URL, Safari will now strip away the identifying components of the URL while preserving the non-identifiable parts. Michael Hesse, a privacy engineer at Apple, emphasized this approach in Apple’s announcement video, signifying Apple's dedication to preserving user privacy while allowing essential functionalities to remain intact.

iOS 17 Impact on Link Tracking Parameters

For digital marketers accustomed to tracking parameters and their assistance in creating collaborative customer experiences, it's crucial to understand which elements might be affected by iOS 17's changes. The good news is that typical UTM parameters should remain unaffected. However, Click IDs with unique identifiers from Google and Meta may be impacted to different degrees.

It's important to note that these changes primarily affect links accessed in Mail, Messages, and Safari's private browsing mode. Users who click on links through dedicated apps, such as the Facebook and Instagram apps, are likely to experience minimal disruption.

Using Safari Normal Mode

Using Safari Private Mode

Click identifiers like gclid & fbclid remain.
Click identifiers like gclid & fbclid removed.

Most people use normal mode.
May impact attribution and reporting of Google and Meta ads.

UTM parameters like utm_source and utm_medium remain for both.
UTM parameters track the performance of campaigns, NOT individual users, which is why they aren't being removed in Safari private mode.

Preparing for iOS 17

With iOS 17 now out in the wild, here are three steps for advertisers and marketers to stay ahead:

1. Run Tests. 

Ensure that links shared via Mail in iOS 17 are not breaking. Testing is vital to quickly identify and address any potential issues. Make sure to test your website’s functionality on private browsing mode to determine if any changes on your website are due to the updates. Here are some tests in private browsing mode to consider:

      • Logins
      • Navigation
      • 2D Canvas AP/WebGL
      • APIs exposing screen geometry
      • Web Audio API

2. Explore Private Click Measurement (PCM). 

Ad attribution can be done without identifying individuals across websites. Apple is promoting Private Click Measurement (PCM) as a solution for anonymous click attribution, available in Private Browsing mode for direct-response advertising. Investigate how PCM can be integrated into your tracking and analytics strategies.

3. Review and Optimize. 

Continue using standardized UTM parameters to observe and analyze the performance of your ads to make informed optimizations. 

With all of these updates impacting brands’ connections with consumers, It is essential to adapt and explore new solutions to maintain effective advertising strategies. For more insights and guidance on navigating these changes, stay connected with Rise. We're here to help!

10/19/2023 at 12:07