Email ad monetization will forever change when Apple officially releases iOS 15 and Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) this fall.
This new feature will apparently send all emails opened with the Apple Mail app (regardless of what email service is used, like Gmail or Outlook) to a proxy server that will pre-load all content, including any impression or tracking pixels, according to Litmus.
This makes impression tracking for Apple Mail users impossible. If you send an email to 100,000 of them, your pixel would fire 100,000 times, even if only 20,000 actually opened it. This impression data (aka number of opens) will effectively become unusable.
Of course, there are caveats here.
For one, the program isn’t on by default. But rather than using a toggle hidden in settings, all users will get prompted upon opening the app to choose to either opt in or opt out of Mail Privacy Protection. Given the prompt’s focus on privacy and the fact that only 24% are agreeing to let apps track them when asked, it’s unlikely many people will select the “Don’t Protect Mail Activity” option.
Two, data show the Apple Mail client accounted for just 46% of email opens in 2020. It’s a lot but not the majority of opens. And three, Apple hasn’t officially released iOS 15, so it’s possible they delay MPP or make some changes that would soften the blow.
This update, nonetheless, will likely have a few major impacts:
This industry is prone to apocalyptic predictions, so I’ll be the first to say that email ad monetization is far from dead. We can still track the number of subscribers, clicks and actions tied to those clicks. Impression tracking, too, will still be available for more than 50% of recipients.
Publishers monetizing with email ads, however, should be aware of these changes and react accordingly. They should proactively discuss iOS 15 with their direct advertisers and how it may impact reporting and pricing.
Disclaimer: a similar article originally appeared on 8/4/2020 in AdExchanger
Chris has worked in ad tech for over fourteen years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He's the VP of Marketing at Kevel.