The Open Rate Chokes: Apple MPP Obstructs Its Use As A Metric

The email open rate is getting more useless by the day, thanks to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). 

Last week, SparkPost tweeted, “Wednesday was a big day for #MPP. For the first time, more open events came from Apple Mail iOS15 (24%) vs. all other Apple Mail (23.6%).” 

SparkPost attached a graph showing that opens on the iOS15 were virtually zero at the start of September, and have grown steadily to 24%, whereas iOS14 or earlier has steadily shrunk. 

“Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean >50% adoption, as these pre-fetched opens are inflating the iOS15 numbers,” the tweet continues.   

For further insight, we asked April Mullen, SparkPost’s director of brand and content, to comment.

“This essentially means that on Apple opens, we've hit the tipping point of more opens happening in the environment where MPP has an impact vs. not,” Mullen answered. “Many of these opens are pre-fetched, meaning they could be false opens as a result of how MPP works.”



Are consumers going for MPP? “We've seen that 97% of consumers are opting into MPP when updating to iOS 15,” Mullen answered. “Adoption will be high.” 

Mullen adds: “The long term impact will be that 40-50% of all email be pre-fetched by Apple, thus reporting opens for all of those emails regardless if a human actually opens or not. “

All this squares with a recent blog post by Moveable Ink’s Michael Nutt.  “With MPP enabled and sometimes prefetching content on a user's behalf, it is not possible to directly determine whether an open event was prefetched by the iOS 15 mail client or the result of direct user interaction,” Nutt wrote.

Estimates put Apple's share of email at roughly 45%.  

What can be done? In a recent company blog post, SparkPost’s Haley Solomon wrote that the firm is adding “a field to both Webhooks and the Events API to indicate when an open has been pre-fetched.” 

Solomon continued: “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).” 

That’s one solution that might help. 



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