Apple User Data Privacy Update

How Science Marketers Can Adapt to Apple’s User Privacy Updates

Apple privacy updates in 2021 have taken the tech and marketing industries by storm. Here’s how science marketers can adapt.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a historic effort to improve the security of users’ data, tech giant Apple recently made major updates to their privacy settings – changes that have caused a bit of controversy in the tech world. Despite the controversy surrounding these updates however, it’s important to realize that we are likely to see more of these types of changes from Big Tech in the growing push to protect user data.

How will these updates affect science marketing? First, let’s talk briefly about what those updates are.

App Tracking Transparency

The first big change emerged in April 2021: an innocuous pop-up message that began appearing when users opened an app. The message asks users if they want Apple or app developers to track their activity on the opened app and across other websites and applications. Apple calls this feature App Tracking Transparency as it allows consumers to actively choose whether they want their activity to be tracked. If a user opts out, Apple and the app developer can no longer track that specific user’s data through the app.

At its core, this update benefits consumers as it gives them the power to choose whether Apple and app developers can track their activities on the internet.

Groups that oppose the transparency update argue that tracking a user’s data gives app developers a better read on user behavior so they can customize the product. Opponents also warn that the changes may increase costs for small businesses that rely heavily on targeted paid advertising.

Mail Privacy Protection

In June 2021, Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection for Apple Mail on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices. In this update, Apple prevents email marketers from inserting invisible pixels that track the behavior of the recipient. Without this information, marketers can’t readily track when a user opens an email. It also masks the user’s IP address so it cannot be linked to other online activity.

Just like App Tracking Transparency, Mail Privacy Protection allows users to actively choose to hide their IP addresses and block pixel usage.

How Does This Impact Science Marketing?

1. Paid Advertising

For companies that depend on tracking to create targeted audiences for paid advertising, this change may prove problematic. These updates mean there might be a relatively reduced pool of user data that companies can leverage to target paid ads.

This could also mean that advertising prices on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will increase as it now may take more advertising dollars to reach:

a) The right audience

b) The desired audience size

While this sounds like a disappointing consequence, science marketers can look at the bright side of these updates.

Although Apple allows users to opt in or out of the tracking, a reduced pool of user data might yield more accurate data on who the “true” users of your app are. This may happen because passionate users of a software or app who understand that their tracked behavior can help your company improve on their experience are likely to opt in. Thus, in practice, your science marketing dollars might stretch further and yield a better ROI with this niche audience.

With an audience that is smaller yet niched down, you will be able to create highly targeted look-alike audiences in Facebook for instance. This will be an audience that is primed to buy your products or engage your services, consequently improving ROI on advertising dollars spent.

2. An Opportunity to Show Concern

This update is also an opportunity to show users that you are conscientious and respectful of their data. It may even allow you to deepen your communication with patrons of your software or app. Below are a few ideas on how to do this.

a) Assure users that you are respectful of their data. Communicate that Apple is implementing this new feature to ensure that any sensitive personal data is not abused.

b) Let users know that while they are not obliged to, tracking helps the company learn more about user experiences so that continual improvements can be made. Explain how their actions on this front may be mutually beneficial.

c) Show them how to turn tracking on and off in case they ever change their mind about being tracked.

3. Leverage Alternative Marketing Methods

Last but not least, these updates will provide science marketers with an opportunity to research and leverage alternative marketing methods beyond tracking user behavior in apps and via email marketing. Video marketing, for instance, is a prime marketing form that most science-based companies are not fully leveraging.

In Conclusion

The shift might be uncomfortable, but it is likely that these user privacy updates are here to stay. Nonetheless, science-based companies can use these updates as an opportunity to deepen their relationships with users by showing they respect their data and leveraging alternative marketing techniques.

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