As we move into an increasingly digital era, privacy has become a significant concern for consumers worldwide. Monumental shifts are happening in the handling of user data, with privacy protection a key driver. Here, tech giants are leading the way, with Apple in particular taking serious steps to secure user privacy and altering how third-party tracking functions.
These changes are leaving marketers scratching their head about what to expect.
What changes did Apple make to link tracking?
In June 2023, Apple publicized forthcoming privacy changes, met with mixed reactions, particularly from marketers and media professionals. These changes, already in beta and scheduled to officially launch in September 2023, will profoundly impact how campaigns and user activity are tracked and monitored.
One of the most significant updates concerns link tracking. To enhance user privacy, Apple announced it would automatically remove link trackers from URLs sent via Message or Mail. Additionally, link trackers will be removed when URLs are opened in Safari Private Browsing.
“Some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across other websites. Now this information will be removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, and the links will still work as expected. This information will also be removed from links in Safari Private Browsing.”
How do Apple’s changes affect campaign tracking and attribution?
Tracking at the granular, user-specific level will be more difficult, especially for multi-touch journeys.
Tracking post-link-click activities will be impacted due to personal identifying parameters being stripped. For example, Google Analytics users won’t be able to rely on Google Click Identifiers (GCLID) in ad hyperlinks for Apple users in many scenarios.
What parameters are affected?
According to the latest research, the following parameters are affected:
|__hsfp||HubSpot tracking parameter|
|__hssc||HubSpot tracking parameter|
|__hstc||HubSpot tracking parameter|
|__s||Drip.com email address tracking parameter|
|_hsenc||HubSpot tracking parameter|
|_openstat||Yandex tracking parameter|
|dclid||DoubleClick Click ID (Google)|
|fbclid||Facebook Click Identifier|
|gclid||Google Click Identifier|
|hsCtaTracking||HubSpot tracking parameter|
|mc_eid||Mailchimp Email ID (email recipient’s address)|
|mkt_tok||Adobe Marketo tracking parameter|
|ml_subscriber||MailerLite email tracking|
|ml_subscriber_hash||MailerLite email tracking|
|msclkid||Microsoft Click ID|
|oly_anon_id||Omeda marketing ‘anonymous’ customer id|
|oly_enc_id||Omeda marketing ‘known’ customer id|
|rb_clickid||Unknown high-entropy tracking parameter|
|s_cid||Adobe SiteCatalyst tracking parameter|
|vero_conv||Vero tracking parameter|
|vero_id||Vero tracking parameter|
|wickedid||Wicked Reports e-commerce tracking|
|yclid||Yandex Click ID|
List of affected parameters provided by Jeff Johnson and corroborated by Knak.
Why Parse.ly users are mostly unaffected
The good news: Apple is leaving most aspects of UTMs alone, focusing on person-level trackers. If the parameters you use aren’t listed above, you likely won’t notice any affect on your data.
“The impact will be small for Parse.ly users. Apple is targeting personally identifiable attributes, which is not the main use case for Parse.ly,” says Parse.ly General Manager John Levitt. “As long as our customers are being thorough about their UTM campaigns, they shouldn’t see much difference in their data.”
Most Parse.ly customers rely on standard UTM models and don’t track at the user level through the dashboard. You’ll still see referrer data, and our unique attribution models will still track user paths across your sites.
If you have questions about how this will affect your data, reach out to your Parse.ly account manager.
Common campaign tracking use cases
You can set up Campaign Tracking to:
- View email newsletter engagement
- Monitor traffic from specific social accounts and posts
- Assess ROI from paid acquisition and sponsored content
- Determine the most effective sources for pushing traffic to your channels
Read our guide to UTM best practices for getting the most out of your Parse.ly Campaigns dashboard.Not a Parse.ly customer yet?