Alex Watts on Apple’s iOS 15

Apple’s iOS 15 update isn’t our nemesis, declares DDB Sydney’s Head of Social Alex Watts in this opinion piece.

Recently, Apple released iOS 15. The latest operating system brings a bunch of changes to the platform, and also brings advertising’s next great ‘nemesis’: Mail Privacy Protection. In short, Mail Privacy Protection will tank access to key email marketing metrics, including Open Rates, and certain profile identifiers, such as location.
This change has led to a lot of doom and gloom in the advertising press. Some have defined it as the “nail in the coffin” of email marketing. Others say we need to “prepare for hardship” as more people adopt iOS 15. Sounds pretty bad, right?

The thing is – MPP isn’t our nemesis. Neither was the AppTrackingTransparency Framework of iOS 14.5, last year’s great advertising apocalypse. I’m also fairly sure that the loss of third party tracking in Chrome in 2022 isn’t going to be an extinction level event, either.

The real enemy is how easy we’ve had it recently.

I might sound mad saying that, but digital advertising has been a breeze for the past couple of years. Readily accessible consumers paired with effective e-commerce solutions on multiple platforms have meant we’re able to eke out incredible results.

But, as more efforts to make the internet a more user-friendly place come into effect, it’s going to get harder to activate that way online, and results are going to suffer. Additionally, every time a change comes into effect, we’ll be left scrambling to respond to it.

So what can we do?

Something that rarely relies on the whims of a third party: Building our brands.

For most marketers, the biggest opportunity off the back of iOS15 isn’t in the micro shifts to make your direct more effective or your paid more efficient. Instead, we should invest in brand and protect ourselves from this challenge and the one that comes after it.

The simple truth is that the companies in the best position coming into this change are those with the strongest brands. If you’ve got a strong relationship with customers, they’re more likely to trust that you won’t misuse their data, and click “Accept” when Apple prompts them to approve access.

Similarly, if you’ve invested in an equitable value exchange in your email marketing, it’s easier for the average consumer to keep seeking out your content, and maybe even visit your website so you can maintain the level of data you’re used to.

And beyond these slightly expected applications, a well-built brand will help you prepare for the unexpected thing that no opinion piece can prepare you for: from pandemics to product shortages.

Now, I’m not advocating for a return to a TV dominated media mix. Brand building advertising is best delivered where your customer spends their time – so look beyond the standard here, too. Consider how social video can help change your brand. Start engaging authentically with the communities around your brand, or start building them. Develop a potent editorial approach that allows you to stand out. And yes, when appropriate, invest in television, but don’t forget that reach comes in many different flavours.

Of course, we know that brand needs to be mixed with sales for the highest impact, and there’s a delicate balance to be made between the two. But as we shake off the ease of the past few years, examining the details of that balance – and committing to building our brands – is a big opportunity.

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