iOS15 Brings Even More Challenges for Marketers

Over the past few years, Apple has positioned itself as a leader in data privacy. Spurred on by customer complaints that their personal data was being used by marketers to target them without their permission, Apple began taking steps to reduce the amount of personal data being shared.

Apple began to address privacy in earnest with iOS 14. The update’s most notable change was its privacy and data sharing policies, known as the App Tracking Transparency Framework (ATTF). Before the update, users could turn off data sharing by going to Settings > Privacy and switching off the function. But most users didn’t know about the option and didn’t turn off data sharing. Whenever you download an app from the App Store, a pop-up will ask if you want to give the app permission to track your activity across other apps and websites. You have the option of allowing or denying tracking. You can find out more details in our blog post Digital Marketing vs Privacy.

iOS 15 introduces additional privacy features that limit or prevent data sharing. As a result, online marketers will be unable to gather customer information from Apple users like they used to. The two most important privacy changes are technologies that mask the email and internet addresses of its customers, making them less viable as unique identifiers for online tracking. Let’s look at each in more depth.

iCloud Private Relay

Marketers have used third-party data (information collected by an entity that does not have a direct relationship with the user the data is being collected on) to develop profiles of individual consumers. This third-party data relies on the ability of apps and websites to track IP addresses across the internet, no matter where the customer went.

‘Private Relay’ encrypts users’ internet traffic on Safari. It’s able to route traffic through two separate relays to obfuscate information regarding who the user is. While one relay gives the user an anonymous IP address, the second is used to send the browsing query to the appropriate results. Apple actually insists that ‘Private Relay’ differs from other VPNs due to this feature; traditional VPNs do not send user data through two steps. The company says this second layer of protection better protects consumers’ browsing data from being accessed – even by the user’s network provider or by Apple itself.

Mail Privacy Protection

If you’re using an email service provider like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, you’re used to having data at your fingertips, like the date and time someone opens an email from you, or where they are in the world. This data helps you in recognizing how successful your email campaigns are and helps you build profiles of current and potential customers.

iOS 15’s ‘Hide My Email’ feature lets you keep your email address private regardless of whether you’re creating a new account with an app, signing up for a newsletter on the Internet, or emailing someone you don’t know well.

How Hide My Email works

Hide My Email generates unique, random email addresses that automatically forward to your personal inbox. Each address is unique to you. You can read and respond directly to emails sent to these addresses and your personal email address is kept private.

If you create an account with an app or visit a website that supports Sign in with Apple, you can choose to share your email address, if you’re familiar with the app or website, or hide your email address, if you’d prefer more privacy. If you choose the Hide my Email option, only the app or website you created the account with can use this random email address to communicate with you. Learn more about Sign in with Apple.

With an iCloud+ subscription, you can generate unique, random addresses from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 or later in any email field in Safari. You can also generate email addresses on-demand in the Settings app or on Learn more about iCloud+.

Apple doesn’t read or process any of the content in the email messages that pass through Hide My Email, except to perform standard spam filtering that’s required to maintain our status as a trusted email provider. All email messages are deleted from our relay servers after they’re delivered to you, usually within seconds.

At any time, you can change the email address that receives forwarded messages. Or you can choose to turn off email forwarding to stop receiving messages. You can manage your addresses created with Hide My Email in Settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or on

The Sky Hasn’t Fallen… Yet

While it may seem as though Apple’s new IP and email privacy features are the immediate death of online marketing as we know it, we’re not quite there yet. These new features only work if the user has purchased an iCloud Plus account, which starts at $0.99 per month. In addition, they require specific apps to work. Private Relay needs Apple’s Safari browser, so users of Chrome aren’t affected. Apple Mail is the only app that supports the Hide My Email feature. All of this taken together means that there are still plenty of iOS users that won’t have their information hidden, and can be marketed using the techniques we become accustomed to.

But the writing is on the wall. It’s unlikely that this trend towards more online privacy will reverse itself. Marketers need to be preparing themselves for a world in which we have to put in a lot more work to get the consumer information we need. This means instead of getting it from third-party sources, we’ll need to actually engage with consumers and acquire the data ourselves. Our blog post First-Party Data – Strategies and Techniques can help you develop a plan to get the information that informs your future marketing campaigns.