How Apple's iOS 17 update affects tracking

In the age of increasing privacy concerns, we marketers have a lot of measurement challenges to navigate and iOS 17 is the next hurdle we face.

The most worrisome feature of iOS 17 is Apple’s new link tracking protection. This will remove all user-identifiable information that will be automatically stripped from URLs when a user is browsing in private mode on Safari or using Apple’s mail or messages.

What does this mean?

Currently, we are able to follow consumers across multiple websites after they click a single link. However, the removal of user-identifiable tracking parameters from links will make it difficult for us marketers to follow the consumer across their multi-touch journey and will limit certain targeting capabilities such as retargeting. These identifiers include Google Click Identifiers (GCLID) and Meta (FBCLID) in hyperlinks from ad clicks.

With the new Link Tracking Protection, UTMs will remain intact, so we will still be able to identify traffic sources.
Examples of UTMs are utm_campaign=autumn&utm_medium=email & utm_source=newsletter.

Some good news is this will only impact consumers using their private browser on Safari. However, it’s important to note that iOS has almost 30% of the worldwide mobile share so even if there is only a small percentage of those using Safari on private, you will more than likely still lose out on some audience tracking.

Another point to highlight is that while this is automatically enabled on Private Browsing, the user will also have the option to select ‘All Browsing’, within their settings, which will disable tracking URLs during all sessions.

While we understand that this is a lot of information to take in, we really won’t know the full impact of iOS 17 on marketing efforts until it is launched. Rest assured, your account owner will keep you up to date with any updates/changes.