Just as marketing leaders everywhere (yours truly included) were reminding the industry why owned channels are important, Tim Apple held Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference and effectively said, “hold my beer.”

Apple announced that in iOS 15 it will implement Mail Privacy Protection, all in the name of a better user experience and protecting your privacy.

When someone logs into their Mail app on iOS 15 for the first time, they’ll be prompted to Protect Mail Activity or Don’t Protect Mail Activity.

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This update will only affect Apple Mail app users (until Google follows suit), but that’s still a significant amount of users- at least 12% according to Litmus. So what does this mean for retention marketing experts and their brands?

For starters, more of an emphasis on retention marketing instead of email marketing. The difference is a discipline as opposed to a channel. Whether email makes it to 2031 or not isn’t important. What is important is identifying what channel(s) will overtake email as a top channel for messaging, and hence for retention campaigns. SMS and Slack are two candidates, but there’s a great chance that whatever’s next isn’t even on the industry’s radar yet, or been created at all.

On the bright side, this update from Apple won’t force email marketing leaders to fly blind in the same way that iOS 14.5 threw off media buyers. Advanced metrics that savvy marketing leaders rely upon for their email campaigns, such as purchases and site traffic, should still work just fine.

The gray area comes to testing and certain automation flows. The future for Win-back and re-engagement campaigns, along with real-time personalization and delivery optimization tactics like subject line testing and send time optimization is up in the air right now.

It’s very early in the process, and marketing teams (ours included) are still doing our homework and crafting plans for our clients to work through these Mail Privacy Protection changes. We’ll have more updates and recommendations for marketing leaders like you regarding Apple’s privacy changes throughout the summer, so make sure you’ve subscribed and marked our emails as important to keep from missing anything.

That said, I want to come back to my original question in the headline: Does Apple hate marketers? The answer is no, of course not. They just hate that you spend your brands’ dollars on ad products other than their own. Apple ads is coming, and unless the world suddenly gets tired of the iPhone and Google finds a renewed sense of commitment to its “don’t be evil” mantra, all of us are going to have to adapt (and shift budget).

Change is coming. Make sure you’re ready.