About Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)

In the release of iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey launched September 20, 2021, Apple has announced a new privacy protection feature Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP).

In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection helps protect your privacy by preventing email senders from learning information about your Mail activity. When you turn it on, it hides your IP address so senders cant link it to your other online activity or determine your location. It also prevents senders from seeing if you've opened the email they sent you.

The most important will continue working as normal:

  • Deliverability will not be affected. Emails will still reach the recipients as before.

  • Engagement metrics within the email will continue be available, e.g. link clicks and click rate

But MPP will affect the way a marketer can see and measure the effect from their campaign.

  • Tracking email opens will not be possible

  • Geographical information will be limited or not available

  • Device and user agent will not be accessible

Apple Mail Privacy Protection - how does it work?

MPP is a feature built into the email client, Apple Mail, on iOS 15 or macOS Monterey.

Ususally APSIS One relies on a single pixel image to track an email opening and to recognise which device an email is opened with. This pixel is in each individual email and is added automatically. MPP provides more privacy by changing the way images in the email are loaded and therefore also affects APSIS One's ability to track the opens.

It is a setting per-device not per-account. This means that it affects all users using Mail.app regardless of which email provider they use. That also means that you cant see on the email address whether the user has MPP or not.

Since it is per-device users can also have different settings on different devices. For example MPP could be enabled on the iPhone but not on the users laptop.

There are different ways the user can configure the privacy settings:

  • They can choose to load images by default, or not. This is not new and not unique to Apple.

  • They can load images directly from their device or via an anonymising proxy.

  • They can configure Mail.app to fetch images even if the containing message hasnt been opened.

When a mailbox receives a message, the Mail application fetches the message (and all the images in it). Since it is done by the client this fetching doesnt necessarily happen at the time of delivery. When the message is fetched, its contents also will be fetched, which in turn makes the tracking pixel to fire and register an Open event. The email however may remain unopened in the users Mail app.

How do users experience MPP?

Mail Privacy Protection is a new option labeled Protect Mail Activity located in the Apple device settings of iOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey.

When users open the Apple Mail app for the first time after downloading the newest operating systems, they receive a prompt to choose if they would like to protect their privacy. If the users decide to protect their privacy, this option enables MPP and hides their IP address. Alternatively, users can go to Settings ? Mail ? Privacy Protection, to then choose whether they'd like to both hide their IP address and protect Mail activity or only enable one of the Privacy Protection features.

When enabled the users dont see any difference from before except possibly that images loads a little bit faster since they may be prefetched on the server.

How does it affect you as a marketer?

If you haven't already, you should probably start thinking about clicks rather than opens. Even before MPP was released, clicks have been a more clear and reliable measurement for engagement. Focus on designing the email campaigns to drive clicks and measure success based on that.

Measuring engagement

Some things you might consider when transitioning to measuring clicks instead of opens for engagement:

  • Use clicks rather than opens for measuring engagement.

  • Use clicks to evaluate the performance of your split tests.

  • Find historical click rates of your campaigns to use as benchmark.

  • Replace opens with clicks in reports and dashboards

  • Marketing automation revisit your MA flows based on open events and evaluate if they are still valid.

  • Segments If you are using segments based on email opens you should probably evaluate if that still makes sense. Could you base them on clicks instead?

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