Consulting Insights

The Release of iOS15 and Its Impact to Marketers

Apple’s iOS 15 update was released today and contains several new features that may impact marketers across industries. Read on for key insights into the update and our recommendations for how to prepare.  

The release of iOS 14.5 in late April 2021 required users to provide permission in order to track their activity across third-party apps and websites, and collect their Apple ID for Advertisers (IDFA). Though the update presented some challenges for marketers regarding attribution approaches, cross-platform measurement, and consumer engagement, it also presented an opportunity to reinforce the value of zero and first-party data. 

As with iOS 14.5, Apple’s new update includes a variety of new features aimed at relieving consumers’ privacy concerns and increasing transparency. Here are a few of the features, how we anticipate they’ll affect marketers, and how marketers can adjust to the changes.  

Mail Privacy Protection (free):  

What is it?  

  • All iOS 15 users will have the ability to opt in to mask their IP address for email and block third parties from tracking whether an email has been opened. This came in response to concerns regarding how brands gather and distribute customer data. As of May, 96% of iOS 14.5 users have opted out of cross app tracking when given the opportunity2 underpinning the importance of privacy to consumers today.  

How will this affect marketers? 

  • As of August, roughly 38% of all consumer email use and ~90% of mobile email opens take place on an Apple iPhone1. We can expect most emails sent to apple users to be a black box from now on. The use of opens and open-rate as metrics will be functionally irrelevant. 

How should marketers adjust? 

  • Clicks and click-rate for links will still be trackable so marketers should re-orient retention and marketing engagement measurement to click-rate as a KPI.   
  • Thoughtful use of UTM parameters with links in marketing emails could help further maximize insights gained from clicks. For example, mapping a given email list to the “source” parameter or specific CTAs to the “content” parameter can help to further distinguish email audiences and engagement patterns using platforms like GA. 
  • Marketers should preemptively perform a list hygiene check, remove inactive email contacts, and implement processes to measure list hygiene based on clicks or other metrics that remain trackable. 


App Privacy Report (free) 

What is it?  

  • Consumers can see how apps are using the permissions they have granted them, which third-party domains they contact, and how recently they made contact. 

How will this affect marketers? 

  • Marketers will be more limited with their tracking abilities and can no longer hide what they are using the data they collect for. 

How should marketers adjust? 

  • Transparency and upfront communication about data, data permissions, and where your data goes will be critical as platforms have to adjust to new norms. Marketers should be aware of how platforms collect and use data and should strive to be open with their consumers to build trust. 


Hide My Email (iCloud+ members) 

What is it?  

  • iCloud+ members will have the ability to cloak their email address by auto-generating spoofed email addresses (e.g., [email protected]). Emails sent to the address will still arrive in the user’s real inbox. It is likely that a high percentage of iCloud+ subscribers will opt in based on trends seen from iOS 14.5. 

How will this affect marketers? 

  • Tracking consumers across platforms via email address will be functionally impossible. 

How should marketers adjust? 

  • Personalized messaging and targeting will need to be constructed solely through first party data. Clients should embrace direct information gathering through tactics such as incentivized surveys, and content success tracking via click and purchase records. 


iCloud Private Relay (iCloud+ members) 

What is it?  

  • Allows consumers to connect to any network and browse with Safari in a more secure and private way. It ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted and uses two separate internet relays so that your IP address, location, and browsing activity cannot be used to create a detailed profile about you. 

How will this affect marketers? 

  • Marketers will not be able to collect and store browsing information about consumers or connect online activity to their brand or past actions. This will limit marketers’ view of site visitors, retargeting efforts, marketing efforts, and algorithm abilities. 

How should marketers adjust? 

  • The use of first party data will be critical as we move to a more private landscape. Implement easy, one-set login access so you can ensure as much data is captured on those who you can have control over. 


These anticipated features of iOS 15 highlight the importance of first party data, upfront communication, personalization, and effective measurement strategies to maintain a competitive advantage. Marketers should continue to find ways to adapt to changes surrounding data privacy and stay up to date on announcements that may significantly impact their business as rollout progresses. Read about additional features of iOS 15 here and visit to view more Ovative thought leadership.  

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more! 


1 | Litmus, Client Market Share August 2021 

2 | Ars Technica, App Tracking Transparency 

3 | 

Lindsay Karner

Senior Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Lindsay is a Senior Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative, where she partners with clients across industries to unlock enterprise growth.

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