iOS17: Link Tracking Protection and marketing attribution

September 20, 2023 - Written by

Starting from yesterday, with the public rollout of iOS17, Apple has introduced a new privacy feature named Link Tracking Protection (LTP). What implications does this have for marketers?

What is Link Tracking Protection (LTP)?

Starting from 2021, Apple introduced the “Apple Mail Privacy Protection” (MPP) that affects the email marketing field related to Open Rate (not more a reliable metric), Location data, Send Time Optimization and more

Now Apple introduce the Link Tracking Protection that means, in other words, certain type of parameters will be automatically removed from the query string when a link is click via iMessages, Mail and Safari Private Browser.

Which Parameters will be removed?

At the moment, Apple will automatically remove from query string de following parameters:

  • gclid -> Google Ads
  • dclid -> Google Display Network
  • fbclid -> Facebook Ads
  • twclid -> Twitter Ads
  • msclklid -> Microsoft Ads
  • mc_eid -> Mailchimp
  • igshid -> Instagram

Which Parameters still remain?

You can use the following parameters:

  • UTM -> Google Analytics
  • tt– TikTok (?? wait… what??)
  • pk_* -> Piwik
  • piwik_ -> Piwik
  • mtm -> Matomo
  • hsa -> Hubspot
  • s_kwicid -> Adobe Analytics

Before and after the Link Tracking Prevention

So, as an example, if your link get something like now, with the rollup of iOS17 people click and your link and land into losing the gclid param. Say goodbye to your Google Ads automatic link tracking and attribution.

The impact of LTP on Marketing Attribution

Why this new feature will have a significant impact to the marketing world?

First of all, iOS devices represent near the 30% of the market share; second: iMessage is used by the 17% of the users, Apple Mail by the 59% and the Private Browsing by the 50%… Among those who use private browsing daily, nearly 40% are shopping.

So the main impact could be related to:

  • Decreased attribution: Tracking params is used to understand who clicked on a link and measure different campaigns. LTP make harder to understand a success of a campaign and to attribute the correct value to it
  • Personalization and Audience: without certain params it becomes challenging to offer personalized experiences or content based on a user’s past interactions and to create targeted segments based on click-through behavior
  • Retargeting limitations: Params are frequently used for retargeting purposes..With LTP, these identifiers will be removed, potentially affecting retargeting efforts
  • Analytics and Reporting: the params removing will impact the accuracy and details of analysis and reporting. Certain types of metrics will be less accurate (eg. click-through, conversions, etc)

What to do to avoid LTP

Here some workaround in order to avoid LTP:

  • Google Ads + UTM double parameter: set the automatic link tracking in Google Ads and insert the UTM params in the same link. When you use this combination the gclid win on the UTM values but if the gclid will be strip, you can count on UTM in Google Analytics.
  • Other Ads + UTM: the same as reported at the previous point but you need to analyse the data into your analytics software system
  • Lookup table: create a lookup table to store your adv info into a new param that will pass the LTP
  • Use clear link but different landing page: send users to different landing page in order to distinguish which campaigns perform best.

At the moment, we suggest to use the first two workaround because they are more solid and practical.

Have you any workaround or other ideas to test? Let us know in the comment!


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