Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection: Can Customers Open Your Emails?
Apple recently made headlines again for a new privacy update: Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). Apple announced this update in June and it went into full effect last month as part of the iOS 15 update. MPP will be available for Macbooks with macOS Monterey’s release, which does not have an official date yet.
According to Apple, MPP “hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if and when you’ve opened their email.” This feature only works within the Apple Mail app, but works regardless of email service provider (such as Gmail or Yahoo).
However, users need to opt in to MPP in order for it to "protect their mail activity." This service is not turned on by default, unless Apple Mail is not your default email client.
Gif courtesy of Litmus
How Does MPP Work?
Marketers likely know that almost all marketing emails contain a tracking pixel image, which transmits data about your behavior and your location. With MPP, Apple downloads all your email content through a proxy server, regardless of if you open the email or not. Apple then downloads a copy of the images in your emails to their Apple Privacy Cache, so you can open, read, and enjoy your emails without any interruptions.
With this process, the data collected by this tracking pixel doesn't give any of your personal information away, because they will collect Apple's server's IP address and not your own. This also means that the sender will see that you opened the email, regardless of if you truly opened it or not, because the Apple server opened it for you.
What Does This Mean?
Litmus annual email client market share data shows Apple mail apps make up almost 50% of combined email opens.
As users begin to adopt iOS 15, the soon to be released macOS Monterey and opt-in to MPP, businesses will need to keep an eye on data to see what changes take place.
When analyzing MPP, we face the same conflict we have with many data privacy initiatives. While it is great as Internet and email users that our data is being protected, as marketers, updates such as this affect key metrics we use to determine campaign success, like email open rate and click-through rate.