Impact of Apple’s iOS 15 Update on Google Analytics

smartphone operating system graphic

October 5, 2021

Apple’s iOS 15 is the latest operating system update that includes more privacy features, which will impact Google Analytics and marketers in some notable ways. These changes are part of Apple’s ongoing commitment to data privacy. Here’s what you need to know to help your business adjust its digital marketing to iOS 15.

Mail Privacy Protection

The iOS 15 update further enhances user privacy, particularly when it comes to email marketing. Mail Tracking Protection is now enabled by default for Apple Mail users. It provides several protections that change analytics tracking for email.
When the feature is enabled, marketers won’t be able to track if the email was opened, as well as what time, the location (from the IP address), and the device information. However, marketers will still be able to track click-through events, such as a link clicked from an email.

iCloud Private Relay

Apple’s new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, is offered as a part of an iCloud+ subscription that protects users’ privacy by ensuring that when they browse the web in Safari, no single party (not even Apple) can see who users are and what websites they’re visiting.
When the service is enabled, the traffic leaving the user’s device is encrypted and two separate internet relays are used. That means no party can collect the IP address, location, and browsing activity to create a detailed profile about the user.

App Privacy Report

The new App Privacy Report allows users to see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, camera, photos, microphone, and contacts during the last seven days. Users can keep or remove permissions in their Settings, as well as find out with whom their data might be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app contacts.

Other Privacy Changes to Know

Google Analytics’s tracking capabilities make it a powerful tool, which is why many marketers are wondering how Apple’s updates will impact measurement and conversions. Let’s take a closer look at some important privacy changes that have occurred this year.

Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA)

IDFA is a unique device identifier assigned by Apple to a user’s device to track and identify a user, without revealing personal data. It’s similar to browser cookies, but for mobile apps. Apps are required to get permission from users to use IDFA.
If the IDFA isn’t available to the marketer, then it becomes challenging to identify and track users in Google Analytics. Plus, marketers won’t be able to do remarketing/retargeting for users without an IDFA.

New Privacy Policy

Apple’s Privacy Policy requires all apps to provide their privacy practices before onboarding the Apple Store. If an app uses a third-party code, it must provide information on any data that's collected and how that data is handled.
Users are also now allowed to request data deletion, which empowers users to control their own data. This is similar to GDPR’s clause which grants the “right to erasure” or the “right to be forgotten.”

User Permission

App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is a new privacy feature that requires developers to ask and gain users’ permission to track them across websites and apps owned by companies other than Apple.
The ATT framework shows users a popup asking for their permission to access their device’s IDFA for tracking purposes. Before the change, users had to opt-out of sharing their IDFA whereas now it’s an opt-in method.

Adapting Your Digital Marketing

Apple’s iOS 15 update is not the first time marketers have had to deal with user privacy — and it won’t be the last. That’s why it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on industry news so you can use Google Analytics most effectively and pivot your digital marketing with minimal disruption to continue generating sales.
Schedule a free consultation now to adapt your website and marketing for data privacy changes!

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