021 Tracking Pixels and Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

Apple is leading the war on privacy in tech and users are slowly waking up to privacy concerns. In this episode, we covered how people are reacting to the app tracking transparency roll-out, how tracking pixels work and the latest in Apple’s privacy campaign. If you’re a marketer, it’s never been more important to collect your own data.

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Episode Notes

In this episode of No Hacks Marketing, we will talk about how you should be concerned about your data privacy. Luckily, Apple is willing to ring the alarm in case your apps are being creepy. But what does this war on privacy mean for marketers and app developers?

Apple is Leading the War on Privacy

It is common knowledge that big companies track mobile users through their apps. However, this makes us vulnerable since we do not know whether these companies are sharing our data to third-parties.

They have been stealing our information and selling it to other companies. That’s why when you’re looking for a specific product, for example, these third-party companies would bombard you with ads.

Hence, Apple is leading the war for privacy.

Back in 2019, CISCO conducted a survey among 2,000 plus adults and found out that only 32% of the respondents care about privacy. Meanwhile, there are those who are willing to act and switch to other service providers over data sharing policies.

In another survey by Econsultancy and Cheetah Digital, it was revealed that 1/3 of the consumers are concerned about their online privacy. In the US, about 24% read privacy policies and 30% have installed ad-blocking.

They’re not low numbers but if you compare it to 70% of people who don’t believe in privacy or don’t know enough to care, that can be scary. Because as mentioned earlier, there are shady people out there who are stealing our information and selling it to other businesses.

How Tracking Pixels Works

Tracking pixels are a 1×1 pixel image that a brand puts in their website, email newsletter, or more. So whenever a person visits a website, for example, the pixels can read through the site visitor’s device log files, do a data evaluation, and so on.

What’s scary about tracking pixels is that when you open your email client, you will not be able to see. That’s because it’s a 1×1 white pixel blending in a white background. Still, it will send some data and will start tracking your online activities as soon as you open your email. The tracking pixel will also send your data information without you knowing.

The tracking pixel can be useful at some point, but the biggest issue is the lack of permission.

The Bad Thing About Tracking Pixels

Again, a tracking pixel can be useful for companies and other service providers. However, a spammer can use it to detect if an email is real or not.

For instance, they can send an email to a million email addresses. Of course, not anyone will open their email, especially to those who know that it’s just spam mail. But let’s say at least 200,000 people will open the email out of curiosity, spammers will know that this email address exists or is active. And then they’ll start collecting user data, unless you’re using an Apple device.

That’s why Apple is leading this privacy initiative because they want to rule out the app tracking transparency.

How Apple is Taking Action (Mail Privacy Protection)

As mentioned, Apple is currently leading this privacy initiative. That’s because they want to rule out the app tracking transparency. As such, they revealed that they’ll have mail privacy protection on their new products.

So, when you’re using your mail app, Apple will hide your IP address and the same goes for your location. That way, the sender cannot link it to your other online activities. The email will still be sent, you can still open it, and the 1×1 pixel will still be there although it will be blocked.

Of course, they’re not going to block every pixel out there. That would require them to have a list of pixels that are blacklisted and are not allowed in emails. It’s also going to be complicated since new pixels will show up and it will always be on the defensive.

Instead, they’ll just let the pixel stay there but it will load as a background. Hence, marketers can say goodbye to the open rate metric.

What would happen is that every email will be considered opened on your mail app. The best thing about this is that Apple will not read your email, they don’t care about your IP, they just want to mess up these people who make trackers.

What the app will do is that it will assign a random IP address on Apple’s proxy network. That way trackers will have no idea who you are.

The App Privacy Report

On the app privacy report, it will show which trackers are blocked from profiling you. You can see it by going to Settings. From there, you check how often you are allowed to be tracked, access your camera, your microphone, and your contacts within seven days, including the time and date. That way you’ll be aware if it’s starting to bother you.

This can help you prevent third-party companies from tracking you.

For example, you’re using Instagram. It will ask your permission to grant them access to your camera and your photos. Suddenly, the app uses your camera or photos without you knowing. That’s scary.

Still, you can’t always rely on Apple to blindly protect everyone that uses their device. It’s still on you whether you give the app access to your device. The app privacy report will just tell you what’s happening and which company is trying to access your data.


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