Apple’s iOS 15 Privacy Protection Update

October 5, 2021

Spencer Kollas, Ansira

Session Recording and Slide Deck


Spencer Kollas presents Apple’s iOS 15 Privacy Protection Update: How to Prepare When Email Open Rates are No Longer Valid. Kollas will go over what Apple’s MPP, anticipated impact, recommendations, and next steps after Apple iOS launch. 


(2:30) What is Apple MPP, how does it work, and what does this mean? 

Mail Protection Privacy (MPP) launched in September 2021. If you’re using Apple mail, this means Apple will automatically download all the images on the servers before you even open the messages. For marketers, this means open rates are potentially going to go out of style. 


How will it work: 

  • Users have to opt into this feature. They will be given the option to opt in the first time they open the Apple Mail App after iOS upgrade. 
  • Apple plans to first route emails through a proxy server and pre-load message content before sending it to readers. 
  • Since the message is pre-loaded (or cached) — the tracking pixel will indicate an “open” before it is even delivered to the reader in their inbox. 


This will affect any email opened from the native Apple Mail app on any device, no matter which email service is used (ie Gmail, Yahoo, ect). This should not affect other email apps used on Apple devices like the Gmail app on an iPhone. 


What this means:

  • If individuals use Apple Mail, we may not be able to tell who opened the emails, when they were opened or where they were opened. 
  • We still know if someone clicks, if the email was delivered, if it was inboxed, if someone unsubscribes or if someone issues a spam complaint. 


(9:29) Anticipated Impact 

How many subscribers will it impact? According to Litmus, Apple Mail accounts for 48% of U.S. email opens. You can assume that opt into Privacy Protection will be at least 90%. So, think about it as about half of your email list will be affected. 


Options for You to Quantify this Audience:

Option 1: Utilize an Email Analytics tool such as Everest, Litmus, or Inbox Monster to view engagement by Email Client. Combine Apple Mail, Apple iPhone, and Apple iPad to get your percentage. 

Option 2: Analyze email client data via your ESP. Select Openers in the last 90 days to determine your percentage. 


Metrics Based on Opens will be Impacted:  

  • Open Rates will be unreliable.
  • Click to Open rates will be unreliable. We need to shift to a click-through rate instead. 
  • Document all current engagement KPIs to serve as benchmarks prior to the change.


(13:08) What YOU can do to Adjust 

Put more emphasis on metrics tiered to impact, direct and indirect: 

  • Conversion rate: Percent of recipients who take a specific action (i.e.; renewal). Ensure that UTM. codes on the end of the URL link are correct and tracking.
  • Revenue or leads generated from recipients.
  • Website Sessions/referral traffic from email marketing. 
  • Subscriber Growth rate.


You can also create a non-Apple mail segment to compare previous benchmarks. 


(17:40) Open Rates Impact More Than Just Metrics

  • Campaigns with rules based on whether the subscriber has opened or not will need to be reviewed and rearchitected. Examples of these are resends and multi-touch points journeys. 
  • Target audiences utilizing last open date will need to be adjusted. Examples include active engaged segment and reengaging/win-back audience. 
  • Subject line testing will be unreliable. For email service providers that select an automated winner, optimize for clicks instead of opens or only use known non-Apple users to run your tests. 
  • Real-time personalization will be impacted. Since Apple will preload images, those that are set to change at open time and that are relying on “up to the minute” data may be impacted. 
  • Certain contextual content will be inaccurate. Anything that draws from context at the time of open (location, time, device, etc.) through open tracking is at risk given that Apple is pre-loading the images and hiding IPs. 


(24:06) Campaign and Immediate Action Recommendations 

Campaign Recommendations: 

Recommendation 1: Segment your audience into known non-Apple users vs everyone else.

Recommendation 2: For non-Apple audiences: the rules can remain the same.

Recommendation 3: For the rest of the audience: send the reminder to those who have not clicked instead of not opened.


Immediate Action Recommendations: 

  • Document all benchmark data for email journeys, Ad Hoc deployments, engagement KPIs, and lead/sales conversions. 
  • Determine the size of your Apple Mail User audience. 
  • Audit automated campaigns to look for rules that are based on open activity. 
  • Review target criteria to identify those that are based on the last open date. 
  • Create a segment on Known Non-Apple Users that can be used for targeting and reporting. 
  • Adjust strategy and update rules on impacted automated campaigns (i.e.; Reminders). 
  • Adjust targeting criteria for impacted audience segments using click and conversion activity (i.e.; Active Engaged, Most Engaged). 
  • Review Reporting Dashboards and conversion metrics, as well as breaking out engagement data by email client. 
  • Deploy a re-engagement campaign to inactive audiences to clean up your “active list prior to launch. 
  • Implement important subject line testing for automated campaigns prior to launch. 


(29:49) Ongoing Efforts After iOS 15 Launch 

  • Keep a focus on deliverability and the quality of your data and sender reputation. 
  • Encourage more engagement within your emails, incorporating engagement tactics that require a third party platform or another tracking hub to allow the collection of engagement metrics like QR codes, Form submissions, Sharing activity, etc.
  • Employ Preference center and progressive profiling tactics to increase the amount of zero and first-party data for targeting, segmentation and personalization.