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Overcoming Digital Marketing Challenges with iOS 17

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Apple's latest iOS update, iOS 17, brings several privacy-focused changes that could impact digital marketers. The update includes new cookie blocking restrictions, mailbox protection features, and tightened app tracking controls. These changes aim to give iOS users more transparency and control over their data. However, they may also pose challenges for digital marketers.

Cookie blocking in iOS 17 will make it difficult for marketers to track users and target ads based on their web activity. Many businesses rely on third-party cookies to retarget users and personalize their experience. With increased cookie blocking, they will need to explore cookieless solutions to continue engaging their audiences. Options include using contextual tactics, first-party data, and developing a customer data platform.

The Mail Privacy feature will allow iOS 17 users to prevent tracking pixels and links in emails from accessing their personal information. This could curb the ability of marketers to optimize email campaigns, tailor content, and attribute revenue based on email activity. To overcome this challenge, marketers need to focus on relevant messaging, compelling content, and solid email automation. Relying less on open rates and click-through rates will be key.

Tightened app tracking controls will require apps to ask for user permission before tracking their data across websites and apps owned by other companies. As most users opt out of app tracking, marketers will lose visibility into critical user acquisition and retention metrics. They will need to find alternate ways to effectively optimize ad campaigns, personalize in-app experiences, and understand lifetime value.

While the iOS 17 update introduces roadblocks, it also encourages marketers to revisit their data privacy policies, rethink user experience, and adopt innovative new solutions. With the right approach, digital marketing can continue to thrive in a privacy-first world. Marketers that embrace change will gain a competitive advantage, build consumer trust, and future-proof their businesses.

So how do you overcome these challenges?

Here are 8 Steps to Help You Navigate IOS17 Changes in 2023 and Beyond

1. Review iOS 17 Privacy Updates

ios17 apple preview

- Read through Apple's official iOS 17 preview and documentation to understand the specifics around App Tracking Transparency, Mail Privacy Protection, iCloud user data protections, and other privacy changes.

- Check industry analysis and commentary to get additional context on how these updates will limit cross-app tracking, targeted ads, email open metrics, and more.

- Document how each change will impact your ability to target, attribute and analyze marketing performance on iOS devices. Identify what user permissions and workaround strategies you may need.

2. Adopt SKAdNetwork and Private Click Measurement

skadnetwork diagram

- For iOS app install campaigns, implement SKAdNetwork 2.0 to get attribution data directly from Apple in a privacy-safe way. This preserves visibility into real-time conversion events.

- Adopt solutions like Google's Private Click Measurement to continue getting click-level attribution for iOS app ads without relying on identifiers. This uses on-device processing to maintain marketing analytics.

- Work with your mobile measurement partner to ingest SKAdNetwork data and integrate it with your other install attribution data to get a holistic view.

3. Leverage First-Party Data

analytics dashboard

- Audit what customer data like emails, addresses, and phone numbers you currently collect that could be used for ads and analytics. Identify any gaps.

- Develop audiences, lookalike models, and segments leveraging this first-party data rather than third-party cookies or mobile ad IDs.

- If permissible, use first-party data to create hashed customer IDs as a persistent identifier for analytics.

4. Test New Targeting Approaches

billboards in subway

- Try contextually targeting ads to iOS users based on the content they are viewing rather than past behaviors or interests.

- Refine demographic and geographic targeting strategies to align ads with audience attributes like age, gender, and location.

- Experiment with different ad creatives, formats and placements tailored to context and audience demographics. Iterate based on performance.

5. Evaluate New Analytics Solutions

women looking at analytics in highrise

- Research aggregate analytics providers that use privacy-focused techniques like on-device processing and differential privacy to provide insights without cookies.

- Explore tools that tie cross-channel analytics together via first-party identity graphs and assets like customer IDs and email hashes.

- Assess walled garden analytics from platforms like TikTok to inform paid social strategies.

- Use our GA4 solution to give you maximum insights into your campaigns.

6. Ask Users for Permissions

fingerprint entry permission

- Add user permission prompts for data access and activity tracking in owned channels like your app and website. Explain why these are valuable for users.

- Make permission requests transparent, easy to understand, and optional. Allow users to revert permissions.

- For emails, adopt Apple's Mail Privacy Protection standard to get opt-in tracking rather than pixels.

7. Collaborate with Internal Stakeholders

stakeholders talking

- Brief internal teams on how the privacy changes may impact marketing and analytics performance. Provide requirements and recommendations.

- Partner with engineering to implement the technical enablers needed, like permission prompts, SKAdNetwork, and first-party data pipelines.

- Work cross-functionally to minimize data gaps through strategies like consent management frameworks.

8. Stay Up-to-Date on Privacy Developments

employee in server room

- Bookmark and regularly review online privacy hubs for updates from Apple, Google, Meta, and other platforms.

- Subscribe to industry newsletters and tune into privacy-focused webinars and events.

- Set a cadence to re-evaluate strategies as platforms release new privacy features. Expect continued evolution.


With Apple's new privacy changes as well as Google Analytics forcing everyone to upgrade to Google Analytics 4, tracking campaigns in 2023 and beyond will become increasingly difficult. McFarland Marketing is able to bridge this gap by setting up comprehensive advertising tracking for clients in any vertical.

Contact Us at McFarland Marketing if you need help setting up conversion tracking for advertising campaigns.



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