In an era where data privacy and user control over personal information take the center stage, Apple continues its trajectory towards enhancing user privacy with its iOS 17 updates. The new upgrade brings changes for digital marketers, particularly those reliant on tracking parameters for measuring ads performance.

Striking a balance between respecting user privacy and executing effective app performance marketing has become a paramount concern, forging a path where marketers must innovate and adapt their strategies to preserve data insights while honoring user choice.

iOS 17 and Safari: The Impact on Click Identifiers and UTM Parameters

With the introduction of iOS 17, there has been a swirl of discussions surrounding its effect on UTM parameters within URLs. Let’s set the record straight: iOS 17 does not discard UTM parameters. However, the implications vary slightly when using Safari in Normal or Private mode. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

In Safari’s Normal Mode:

  • Click identifiers such as gclid and fbclid are retained, facilitating the tracking of clicks from different platforms like Google and Facebook respectively.
  • UTM parameters like utm_source and utm_medium are also preserved, aiding in campaign performance tracking.

In Safari’s Private Mode: 

Click identifiers like gclid and fbclid are omitted, which could potentially affect the attribution and optimization of your campaigns. UTM parameters including utm_source and utm_medium remain intact, ensuring continuous tracking of campaign performance without utilizing user-specific data.

Removing tracking parametersThe removal of click identifiers exclusively in Safari’s Private mode can affect attribution, optimization, and the reporting metrics of your Facebook Ads. Click identifiers play a crucial role in tracking users from URLs which, in turn, offers more precise results, realistic attribution reports, and enhanced optimization. But really, with the increased focus on privacy for end users, we believe that it’s a matter of time before we officially say goodbye to attribution.

Remember, UTM parameters are designed to monitor the performance of campaigns without accessing identifiable information of individual users, hence they still survive even in Safari’s private mode. This distinction underscores the importance of UTM parameters in obtaining a broader understanding of campaign performance, while also respecting user privacy.

What is Apple’s Private Click Measurement?

Private Click Measurement (PCM) is an Apple-developed protocol introduced as part of Apple’s wider privacy initiative. Private Click Measurement strives to provide a middle ground where advertisers can obtain relevant conversion data without accessing user-specific or cross-site tracking information.

In essence, Private Click Measurement allows advertisers to track when a user clicks an ad on one site and makes a purchase (or triggers a conversion) on another site, without exposing the user’s identity or browsing behavior. The mechanism is designed to allow a certain degree of ad click attribution while maintaining a robust stance on user privacy.

Private Click Measurement encompasses several privacy-preserving measures, such as:

  • Delaying Reports: To prevent real-time tracking, Private Click Measurement reports are sent at random intervals, obscuring exact activity timelines.
  • Limited Data: The data in the reports is minimized, providing only essential information for advertisers to measure conversion efficacy.
  • No User Identifying Information: Private Click Measurement ensures that no user-identifying information is transmitted in the conversion reports, safeguarding individual privacy.

Thus, PCM provides a pathway for marketers and advertisers to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns without compromising the enhanced privacy norms that modern internet users demand. This allows advertisers to optimize their campaigns based on actual conversion data, while users can feel confident that their privacy is being respected.


Pivoting with Private Click Measurement

Apple isn’t leaving advertisers completely in the dark. The advent of Private Click Measurement (PCM) in iOS 17, even in Private Browsing, signals a potential path for advertisers to measure ad clicks from one website to another: This helps maintain a semblance of tracking in a privacy-centric environment.

PCM could become a great tool in your toolkit, ensuring that some degree of conversion tracking continues to illuminate marketing pathways. Clever integration and utilization of PCM can pave the way for app marketers to still extract valuable insights and maintain an understanding of user behavior, without trampling on privacy norms.

What does the future look like with Parameterless Criteria and Landing Pages?

Considering a future where these privacy norms could expand beyond private modes, marketers can explore new avenues like developing dedicated landing pages for each sub-topic, thereby concentrating traffic based on fewer criteria, such as keywords. This would allow a semblance of measurement without leveraging parameters.

Smartly engineered landing pages, replete with content that’s both engaging and SEO-rich, can become the new beacon for app performance marketers. By focusing on content and context, marketers can potentially generate organic traction, thereby reducing dependency on ad clicks and redirect traffic for successful app marketing.

Wrapping up iOS17 and Private Click Measurement

iOS 17 marks a pivotal point where the norms around user privacy and data tracking are being redefined. For app performance marketers, the challenge now lies in navigating through these constricted yet essential privacy norms, ensuring that strategies are not only compliant but also continue to drive engagement and conversions in this new paradigm.

Moving forward, the confluence of innovative, privacy-aware strategies and astute, flexible marketing practices will define success in the digital advertising realm. App performance marketers need to embrace these shifts, crafting strategies that are both sensitive to privacy concerns and robust enough to drive user engagement and conversions.


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