Apple iOS 17 and LTP: How does it affect email marketing?

In October 2023, Apple released iOS17 and MacOS Sonoma. With it comes some new functionality -- Link Tracking Protection, first announced back in June, and email marketers should be aware of the impact this can have on email links and email link tracking.

Let's start with Apple's description, from the release notes for iOS17: "Link tracking protection removes extra information from links shared in Messages, Mail, and Safari Private Browsing that some websites use in their URLs to track you across other websites, and links still work as expected."

This isn’t the first time Apple has thrown a wrench into email marketing, email tracking or online tracking plans. Apple introduced Mail Privacy Protection in late 2021 and ever since then, open tracking has been much less accurate for email senders. (It’s still good enough for engagement segmentation and sunsetting, though!)

As Naomi West explains for, Apple is stripping some variables and parameters from URLs, and it affects links users share in Mail and Messages, and it also affects URLs used in the Safari Private Browsing heightened privacy environment. Since users have to opt-in to Safari private browsing -- this not affecting “normal” clicking of links -- actual impact might be relatively low.

But not zero. Parameters like “gclid” and “fbclid.” -- common tracking parameters used by Google and Facebook -- are being removed. “UTM” variables do not seem to be affected.

A website called “Know and Connect” offers a testing tool that you can use to see if and what Apple might be stripping from your links.

This isn’t the only email/email privacy-related change to come with the release of MacOS Sonoma. As previously mentioned, as of Sonoma, Apple has dropped support for legacy mail plugins.
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