iOS 15 Mail Privacy Protection: Benchmarking & Performance

Time To Reset Those Email Channel Benchmarks! 

We all know that Apple shook things up for marketers last fall when they introduced their Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) opt-in for consumers—in doing so, this prevents brands from recognizing their Apple iOS 15 users that open their emails.  Of course, it’s not all email that is impacted; but it’s a notable audience and has made open rates higher than we are all used to seeing.  In the next few minutes, we’ll break this down a little further and provide guidance on how you, as marketers, can move forward. 

Our Analysis 

Since the launch of MPP, we’ve been monitoring weekly click behavior of OEM-specific (Original Equipment Manufacturer) email campaigns so that we can understand the speed and impact of MPP adoption in Apple iOS emails.  Historical data analysis from the iOS 14 update rollout (2020) shows us the adoption of users peaked at 82% click engagement (of total iOS open behavior).  Even more, this happened in less than 4 months.  iOS 14 and prior iOS updates were a more forced rollout by Apple; whereas, iOS 15 was not pushed, and as such, the adoption we are seeing is slower.   

Our analysis and data visualization demonstrates a corresponding relationship between the decrease in iOS 15 opens and an increase in Unknown/Other OS opens.  Additionally, we see the increase in clicks on iOS 15 grow with this same timing as the opens change.

Our analysis continues to see the click adoption increase. Most recently with our February and March campaign data, we reached 81% click adoption and leveled off in this 60-day period—identifying the timing to move forward with resetting new benchmarks.   

In addition, we learned two other material items with this update: 

  1. We knew opens would be masked; however, we didn’t know they would be received as 100% opens and represented as unknown/other, making it so that we’re unable to attach the open to a specific user’s email address. 
  2. We observed the spike of opens occurring in the middle of the night with internal campaign data. This blog post also published an analysis shows Apple caching the opens at night when the majority of users plug in our phones.   

Resetting Benchmarks 

We now have the analytic view and insight enabling us to reset open rates, while maintaining other existing reporting and measurement in place, and the ability to isolate and watch iOS 15 behavior.  To do this we’re taking the campaigns that occurred during the leveling off period (February and March 2022) to determine the new average open rate benchmark.  At the same time, it’s also possible to now reset your Click-to-open rate (CTOR) benchmarks.  If prior to the iOS 15 update your unique open rate (UOR) was around a 13.5%, you may now be seeing that same metric around 39%.  If you were averaging a 30% UOR, you may now be seeing it closer to 51%.  With these new benchmarks, you can now analyze your campaign performance and see how your email testing (e.g. subject lines & imagery) is boosting that UOR.  

Other Approaches 

  1. Some marketing teams are challenged with the notion of resetting a benchmark and determined that they should break out these Apple user opens by looking at how the server is passing them back to their platform.  That’s certainly one approach, and many ESPs are working to enable such reporting.  You just need to be prepared if this will impact how you measure other testing you may be running. For example, does this misrepresent your click thru rates (CTR) or other performance metrics.  
  2. A second option could be a change to the engagement attribution window altogether.  For example, if your campaigns are predominantly broadcasting breaking news, or expecting near to immediate response; then measuring engagement for 4-5 hours post campaign send is ensuring that your audience is receiving the news while it’s still late-breaking and could be reflecting a more defined window for engagement.  This approach should be optimized by click engagement and will define new benchmarks for measurement and testing.  
  3. A third option is to look at using functionality that pushes emails to users based on their expected engagement.  With our PrimeTime feature in our Zeta Marketing Platform, we are able to optimize engagement and deliver campaigns based on the combination of explicit open and click engagement data; our model building on historical data captured across customers profiles for brand.   

Using Engagement as Suppression 

This gets tricky with these iOS 15 opens registering as “opened,” while we know we have customers that become lapsed and inactive in engaging with our messages.  We won’t reflect here on whether we are offering relevant content—that’s a different discussion altogether.  What I will say is that you should look to establish a new score, one that is built with multiple engagement points that will help to balance the weight of just email—using clicks, opens, web visits, purchases— while formulating a holistic brand engagement value for consideration.   

What’s Next 

I can’t predict what Apple will bring next or how other OS’s will follow suit, but what’s clear is that we will continue to get challenged as marketers.  Using our data, we will establish new strategies in how we measure and in how we develop new engagement scores to balance how we assess. And, we will move forward.  This is a reminder to us, as marketers, to continue focusing on knowing your customers.  Zeta is committed to supporting our clients with changes through this and to help them reach their goals.   If you’d like to speak to learn more about how we can reach and exceed those goals, speak to one of our industry experts today


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