What is Apple’s Mail Privacy Program (MPP)?
On September 20th, Apple released iOS 15, which included a new feature called “Mail Privacy Program,” or “MPP.” MPP is designed to help protect the privacy of Apple users by preventing email senders from learning certain information about the recipient of that email.
The information that MPP prevents from being shared with the email sender can include any of the following:
The ability to link related email activity (like a similar purchase history)
Your exact IP address/location
Visibility into whether or not an email has been opened
NOTE: At this time, MPP is only available to Apple Mail users who have updated their Apple phones to iOS15.
How does MPP work?
When Apple Mail users open up their Apple Mail App, they will now be prompted to “Protect Mail Activity,” or “Don’t Protect Mail Activity.” (Neither option is pre-selected, or turned on by default for the user).
If the user selects “Protect Mail Activity,” then Apple will first route all incoming emails to the Mail App through a “proxy server.” This downloads all of the message content automatically, prior to the Apple Mail user actually receiving the email message. That content includes things like “tracking pixels,” which are used to determine email analytics such as “open rate.”
Then, when the Apple Mail user opens up their Mail app, a download of that email message will be delivered to the app for the user to access. Any images found in that email message will be downloaded to the new “Apple Privacy Cache,” and the email message will reflect back to the sender with an IP address that includes the “general area” of the Apple Mail user – not their specific geolocation.
The choice to protect or not protect Mail Activity will then be synced across all Apple devices using the same Apple ID, such as an iPad.
What does this all really mean and how does it affect me?
Apple is effectively making all of the messages an Apple Mail user receives appear to have been opened – even if the user never ends up opening the email at all! This can cause highly inflated and inaccurate email open rates.
How will this affect the emails I send through my Bonterra Donor Management System?
Bonterra has been closely monitoring these changes by Apple and has already put in place mechanisms to filter out these false positive email opens, which means if you are sending email blasts through Bonterra, you will see little to no impact to your email open rates!
Even though we’ve already addressed these changes by Apple, we still recommend also focusing on other email engagement stats like “click rate” and “amount raised” to track the effectiveness of the emails you are sending through your Bonterra Donor Management System.
Will this affect my other email applications on my iPhone or Apple Device?
While it will affect any email accounts being used through Apple Mail (like if a Gmail account or work email is set up to flow through the Apple Mail app), this will not affect other external email apps used on Apple devices. In other words, if you access your Gmail through Apple Mail, MPP may be utilized – but if you instead access your Gmail through the Gmail app on your iPhone, then MPP won’t apply to those messages.