The Worm In The Apple: Mail Privacy Protection Takes Effect

It’s here — the day email marketers have been dreading for months — the day Apple is rolling out its iOS Mail Privacy Protection (MPP).

Starting now, senders will no longer be able to use open rates as a metric.  

In technical terms, MPP will prevent them from using invisible pixels to collect open-rate and geographical-location information about their recipients.

All emails going through Apple will register as opened, even if they were not really opened. 

It is not known how many consumers will opt in to this service. Roughly 35% to 40% of email subscribers open their mail through Apple clients.

Whatever the number, email vendors are stepping up to help brands cope with the situation.   

For instance, Validity on Monday announced it will expand the engagement analytics within its Everest platform. 

"With our latest update to Everest, users' existing data will be reorganized for more efficient and actionable insights to ultimately help marketers understand the accuracy and takeaways from the data that's available," says Greg Kimball, senior vice president, global head of email solutions at Validity.

Everest will help marketers get a more complete view of campaign performance, including inbox placement rates and sender reputation signals, the company claims. Combined with click-through rates, conversion rates and other metrics that are “deeper in the conversion funnel,” brands will get a picture that goes beyond open rates, it adds.  

In addition, Everest will segment inflated open rate data stemming from Apple Mail and other proxy services from more accurate open rate data originating from other mail client and mailbox providers, Validity continues, These segments will include Apple Privacy Proxy, Google Proxy, Yahoo Proxy, Desktop, Mobile/Tablet, and others.

Validity warns that this will have a sweeping impact on the industry. But one Validity client is hopeful. 

"I'm very pleased with what Validity has shown us," says Fons de Waard, Head of Data & Platforms at Samsung UK. "This works similar to how we measure our web visitors. I think this is a perfect implementation and solution in terms of meeting sender's needs against what Apple is trying to provide."

That’s not the only new service: As previously reported, Litmus has introduced Apple Audience report, which allows marketers to see a baseline of Apple Mail usage by email subscribers, including various engagement metrics. 

Meanwhile, other observers see positives. “We see it as an opportunity,” says David Greenberg, CMO of growth marketing automation platform Act-On Software.”We’re focused on personalized email, triggered across the lifecycle. So the thing we won’t lose is the clicks and what they’re engaging with and what content they’re reading.”

But what about the rumor that MPP will be the death of BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification, the security standard that allows firms to display their brand logos alongside authenticated email messages?

“I don’t know it’s going to have an impact on BIMI, says Todd Herr, Technical Director, Standards and Ecosystem at Valimail, whose job is improving the email ecosystem through the development and advancement of industry standards such as DMARC and BIMI. “It has taken marketers’ attention away from BIMI because they are now focused on how to measure open rates.” 

Herr is not alarmed, although he admits he might be if he were working in email deliverability. In fact, MPP is “complementary to the mission of BIMI, which is to make email better and safer for the consumer.” 

“There are other ways to measure user engagement,” Herr says. “Marketers will have to find a new normal, whether click tracking, or how many sales am I making.” People have long said that “open pixels were never a pure measure, anyway,” Herr notes.

Herr notes that there was a similar uproar years ago when Gmail announced it was going to proxy all images. “That was terrifying to the email industry for a few months, then it all died down,” he laughs. 

In conclusion, Herr says, “I’m sure a lot of smart people are looking at this problem.”

Finally, it pays to note that none of the individuals quoted here are actually denouncing the Apple move. "We are strong advocates for ethical marketing and support initiatives that promote and protect consumer privacy,” Kimball says. 



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