Earlier this month, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who sought federal whistleblower protection with the SEC, testified before Congress. Ms. Haugen left Facebook in May after almost two years. She stated she had grown frustrated by what she saw as the company’s “lack of openness about its platforms’ potential for harm and unwillingness to address its flaws.” According to Renée Brooker, a partner with Tycko & Zavareei LLP, a law firm specializing in representing whistleblowers, Ms. Haugen’s concerns go to the heart of consumer data privacy violations.
U.S. lawmakers have been frustrated with Facebook for years. As early as 2011, they raised alarms about Facebook’s failures to protect users’ privacy, its problems combating misinformation on its platforms and its impact on users’ mental health. However, they haven’t passed any new laws addressing those issues.
Consumer privacy has become a major concern in the last few years. Since GDPR (European General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) passed in 2018, data privacy has been evolving, and states and companies are responding.
Since there is no federal legislation, when the law changes in one state, other states reexamine their measures. And, due to the nature of the beast, the dialogue around data privacy is constantly evolving.
The Loss of Third-Party Cookies
Recently, there’s been discussion about the loss of 3P cookies. Third-party cookies are text files that collect and store data about web experiences across different websites. They help to inform companies about the people who visit their websites.
In March, Google announced its ad tools would no longer support individual tracking of users across websites beginning in 2023. Coupled with last year’s announcement of plans to stop supporting 3P cookies, these changes make it even more difficult for marketers to deliver personalized experiences, relevant content, and trusted human connections.
Mail Protection Privacy Was Just a Matter of Time
At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple introduced Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). The announcement sent the email marketing community into an uproar speculating about the demise of the open rate.
So, how does MPP work, and what is its impact on email?
With the release of iOS 15 on September 20th, it’s no longer possible to measure open rates for email recipients using Apple Mail. The reason? Apple’s ‘Mail Privacy Protection’ is’ a feature that “stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user.”
Once enabled, email marketing services will not be able to track open rates for Apple Mail users. Open rate is one of the most common email marketing metrics, so marketers will need to rethink their strategies.
According to Apple, “Mail Privacy Protection hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. It also prevents senders from seeing if and when you’ve opened their email.”
Currently, MPP is available for the Mail app on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 devices. However, it is not available for Macbooks yet — but will be once macOS Monterey launches later this year (they haven’t released the date yet).
Companies rely on tracking to monitor their marketing efforts. Additionally, there are email readers designed to let senders know when their emails have been opened.
How Does it Work?
When viewing an email, a lot of tracking is facilitated using remote images. Some tracking is disingenuous, with advertisers using invisible tracking pixels. Tracking pixels are hidden graphics that may not be visible in an email, but your email reader loads them, enabling senders to gather your data. Senders can see that you’ve opened their email and gather additional information, including your IP address.
When an email recipient opens the Apple Mail app, they’ll see a message asking them to either “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity” (neither are pre-selected).
Implications for Marketers
For consumers, privacy is vital. In a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, 54.7% of Gen Z consumers reported concern about the privacy of their personal identity and sensitive information when shopping online. Therefore, it’s critical to a brand’s strategy, and those who prioritize data privacy will enjoy the most success. When a brand introduces new products or services, data privacy must have a front-row seat to discuss and understand its impact on the organization’s responsibility to consumer privacy.
For marketers, the only constant is change. Technology always brings new challenges and new opportunities. Successful marketers are those who can adapt the quickest. We are experiencing major changes that will likely have a significant impact on how marketers do their jobs. Still, the fundamental truth of marketing remains the same: Deliver a relevant message to the user, where they are and when they need to hear it, and success will follow.
Jungle Communications understands that protecting your customers’ data is vital — your business depends on it. Marketers must handle Personally Identifiable Information (PII) carefully. Contact us to learn more about protecting your customers’ sensitive information in the era of data privacy.