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Author's profile photo Will Young

Apple iOS 17 – What will this mean for marketers?

Next month, Apple will release iOS 17. Along with the standard improvements and usability updates, they are including an additional privacy feature which has marketers in a spin: Link Tracking Protection (LTP).

What is Link Tracking Protection?

This is how Apple describe it in their press release:

“Some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across other websites. Now this information will be removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, and the links will still work as expected. This information will also be removed from links in Safari Private Browsing.”

In practical terms, this means removing some URL tracking parameters from links when using the Safari browser, and also when sharing links using Messages and Apple Mail.


Before LTP:

After LTP:

The result of this being that response tracking for many of the messages delivered through the Apple ecosystem will be reduced to anonymous numbers, which is bad news for anyone with an interest in which of their customers are doing what.

So should we be worried?

We think not, for two reasons:

  • This affects ‘bad’ tracking, not ‘good’ tracking
    LTP is designed to hinder covert tracking, which we anyway do not approve of, and cross-site tracking, which is often useful but not a core need for most Emarsys customers. Regular e-commerce businesses with loyal customers who log in to their web shop will not be affected in any way – as things currently stand.
  • Emarsys links are not yet under the spotlight
    There are sites like this one which are monitoring which parameters will be removed, and Emarsys does not feature on the list. Furthermore, in our own internal tests we have opened email campaigns on Safari in private browsing and could track the links clicked.

So for now, it looks like no Emarsys customers will be affected by the release of iOS 17.

However, this may well change.

Apple’s market share is simply too big to be complacent, so we’ll be constantly monitoring and testing our links and advise you to do the same. Follow our tags on the Community and we’ll be posting more content like this if we spot any changes that might affect our customers. And if you spot anything yourself, add your comments here and let’s start a conversation!

Your main takeaway

The cat and mouse game that marketers have with regulators over privacy and tracking often obscures the simple truth at the centre of it all: a happy and loyal customer will log in to your web shop where you can follow their behaviour, personalize their experience and win their business. So focus on earning your customers’ trust, and give them something in return for their data. Then you can sit back and watch the data protection dance from the sidelines.

You, the consumer: To download or not to download?

And finally, here are my two cents as an iPhone user:

iOS 17 is a nice update, but there aren’t many huge features. And many of the best ones, including NameDrop, FaceTime and Messages improvements, and the new Contact cards, require other people who are also using iOS 17. So on a personal level, sure I’ll download it, but since there’s no real advantage in being the first one to do so, I’ll probably wait to see what reactions, roll-backs or reversals pop up in the first few months after release.

Further reading:

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      Author's profile photo Joyca Vervinckt
      Joyca Vervinckt

      Thanks for the clear blog Will Young !

      Does the same conclusion regarding no impact hold for SAP Marketing Cloud too?

      Author's profile photo Will Young
      Will Young
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Joyca Vervinckt, thanks for your comment. Although I can't answer for SAP MC, I would answer with a qualified 'yes' to your question, for the same reason and with the same reservations: On the one hand, it looks good because there don't seem to be any recognisably SAP cookies on the list of affected vendors on external sites like the one I linked to. On the other hand, one should never assume that this will stay that way and we should all be shifting our marketing mindset away from reliance on these outdated methods of tracking.