Mail Privacy Protection Kaboom! Apple Is Already Proxying 10% Of All Opens

Don’t believe those soothing reassurances about the effect of Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). SparkPost has gathered real numbers, showing that MPP is already affecting email. 

SparkPost, a mega-volume email sender, saw proxied opens increase and then level off by the end of last weekend, barely one week after MPP took effect on September 20. 

“As proxied opens increased, so did overall opens,” says April Mullen, the director of brand and content for SparkPost. “In short: MPP is having an impact already. We’ll continue to keep an eye on it, but we’re already seeing around 10% of all email being proxied by Apple.” 

Specifically, Apple’s percentage of all opens ticked up on September 21, and continued growing until the 24th, then leveled off to 10% on Saturday the 25th.

Proxied opens are those happening “because Apple is making them via the MPP process,” Mullen explains. “As their proxied opens increase, we are seeing an increase in overall opens, which means those ‘fake’ opens are mostly causing that increase, not actual subscriber engagement opens.” 



As you may recall, MPP prevents marketers 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.

Ten percent may not sound like the end of the world, but it bears watching.   

So where does that leave us? 

SparkPost is one of many firms working on the problem. In a recent company blog post, Haley Solomon wrote that SparkPost will be adding “a field to both Webhooks and the Events API to indicate when an open has been pre-fetched.” 

Solomon continues: “These opens will still be included since they can be a valuable signal that an email address is valid (specifically, they indicate that the email address is linked to a powered-on Apple device, so almost certainly associated with a “real” human being).” 

Nevertheless, the new flag “will make it easy to see that these opens are different from actual engagement events and should be treated differently,” Solomon adds. This capability will be added in a few weeks, and SparkPost will incorporate this distinction into its Analytics Report UI and Metrics API in Q4, Mullen says. 

Meanwhile, Solomon reminds marketers: “Our Inbox Tracker and Competitive Tracker products don’t use open pixels to track opens, so those will continue to work as they always have.”


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