The Scoop on iOS 15 and #OpensAreDead

The Scoop on iOS 15 and #OpensAreDead
Everything you need to know about iOS 15 and #OpensAreDead to prepare your digital marketing strategy for Apple's newest privacy changes.

In June 2021, Apple announced the latest version of its operating system, iOS 15, to the world.

On September 20, iOS 15 was officially rolled out. As with any new Apple software update, plenty of new features were introduced such as:

  • Updated FaceTime calls
  • Distraction reduction tools
  • Extra Privacy
  • New notifications UI 
  • And redesigns for Safari, Maps, and Weather

However, for us marketers, the most important new feature is the added privacy changes. The two main features, are known as “Mail Privacy Protection” and “Hide My Email.” These features will have a massive impact on email marketing and have sparked the trending hashtag: #OpensAreDead.

In this blog, we will look more in-depth at what this means and how it will affect your digital marketing tactics!

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What is iOS 15?

iOS 15 is Apple’s latest operating software update for all Apple devices. The update brings many new features. We are all too aware of the impact of iOS 14 on digital advertising and this new version brings about its own set of challenges.

Voice isolation and Spatial Audio have been introduced to FaceTime calls. Apparently, this will make it seem like voices sound as if the person were actually located on the screen.

Focus is a new feature that filters notifications and apps based on user preference. The feature will allow users to focus on a certain app for a certain time.

Notifications have been redesigned in iOS 15, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. 

Redesigns swept across most major iOS apps, with Safari getting a new tab layout and Maps can now showing 3D views of cities. Other apps, such as Weather, Photos, and Wallet, were also revamped.

New Privacy Features are the main focus of the update and will be what we will look at closely in this article. The measures were introduced in a wide number of places across Apple devices.

These include:

  • Local Siri requests directly on the iPhone
  • Mail Privacy Protection which stops senders knowing if an email has been opened and detecting a recipient’s IP address
  • App Privacy Reports show how often apps use the permissions they have been granted.

What is #OpensAreDead?

Apple’s privacy changes mean that marketers are no longer be able to track whether email subscribers actually open the company’s email. This brings a fundamental change to 20-year-old email marketing best practice, which was ingrained in modern advertising.

When marketers became aware of the privacy changes they responded by sharing the challenges they would face with marketing stats becoming less reliable. This lead to the hashtag #OpensAreDead to begin trending on all major social media networks.

Why is #OpensAreDead a Big Deal?

Open rates are a key metric for email marketing campaigns. They let a marketer know whether the email they sent was actually opened by the recipient or not. The metric is also very important for other aspects such as:

  • Monitoring deliverability: It allows marketers to see how many emails get sent to subscribers’ inboxes, how many emails are not delivered, and how many emails go to the spam folder.
  • Re-engagement campaigns: Knowing who has opened your emails allows you to more accurately determine who is an interested customer. These users can then be targeted differently to inactive subscribers who may need different ads to promote re-engagement.
  • Time optimization: Knowing when customers are most likely to open your emails allows you to email when the chance of engagement is highest.
  • Follow-up emails: Emails can be automatically sent out to customers following up on a previous email which they opened.

As we can see, information on whether subscribers open your emails or not is essential to many aspects of email marketing.

How to handle iOS 15

Thankfully, this issue is only for Apple users, and consumers opening their emails on desktop and Android devices will remain trackable. However, there are over 588 million Apple users worldwide and more than 1 billion Apple devices. So this is a large share of the market which cannot be ignored! 

Given that this is the second majorly disruptive move from Apple this year alone, it may become a trend. If Android adopted a similar privacy option, then this issue would grow much much bigger. 

So how can you prepare your business for iOS 15 changes and future-proof your marketing? 

#1 – Diversify Your Marketing

If this privacy change by Apple and the major Facebook outage recently has thought us anything it’s that diversity is key. All businesses should begin to diversify and explore omnichannel advertising. Running ads through more than one platform ensures that no matter what happens your ads will be seen by the correct customers.

You may consider trying Optily’s software free for 14-days to see how true diversity and optimization can impact your ad campaigns, instantly.

#2 – Identify Key Metrics

Businesses should begin familiarizing themselves with all key performance metrics. You can see a list of all the metrics that we think are most important in our article, Optily’s New Ranked Recommendations Explained, which details key metrics and the power of weighted recommendations.

While open rates are important to email marketing there are other metrics such as:

  • Click rates
  • Conversions
  • ROI

These allow marketers to understand different elements of marketing and identify which emails are converting the best to run stronger campaigns. Make sure you’re using UTM tags to track all your links in email, so you know exactly where your traffic is coming from.

#3 – Examine Before/After Data

iOS 15 launched on the 20th of September. However, if you’ve been running email marketing campaigns for a while, then you might already have an idea of how your ads perform. Some interesting data points you could examine are:

  • Best time of day for engagement
  • Best day of the week for engagement
  • Subject lines effectiveness

We recommended you look at the data before and after the iOS launch to see how performance was affected. Setting these benchmarks and knowing the quantifiable effect that the update had on your data will let you better understand your data from here on.


There’s no doubt that iOS 15 has sparked more change in the marketing world. However, one thing the trending #OpensAreDead does show us though is that all marketers are in the same boat. 

That’s why you just need to be one step ahead of every other marketer.

How can you do that? Why not try Optily – The Only Single Click Ad Spend Optimizer. This powerful ad tech solution offers instant optimization for your online advertising.

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