iOS17 will automatically remove tracking parameters from links in three areas – Mail, Messages, and Safari in private browsing mode. This new feature is called Advanced Tracking and Fingerprinting Protection. In Settings, it can be manually enabled by the user for All Browsing. Links will remain functional, but unique identifiers will be removed. Nonidentifiable parts will remain intact.
These measures are designed to expand privacy protection and prevent individual user data from being shared.
When will this take effect?
While iOS17 will be available for public beta in late July, widespread rollout will likely be in mid-September.
What might be the impact?
Safari accounts for 25% of the market share for smartphone browsing, 35% on tablets, and 15% on desktops. We don’t know how many people always, or occasionally, use Private Browsing Mode, but we estimate it to be about 33% of Safari users. To back up and zoom out, Safari has blocked third-party cookies by default since version 13.1 released in March 2020. The App Tracking Transparency framework released in April 2021 with iOS14.5 required users to opt-in to app tracking. As a result, view-through has long been compromised. And now, iOS17 will compromise the clickthrough as well. But by how much?
It depends. Brkthru generally employs nonidentifiable UTM parameters like the source, medium, and campaign, which will remain uncompromised. However, any identifiers that can be used to track individual users, for example, fbclid (Facebook Click Identifier) and gclid(Google Click Identifier), would be automatically stripped from the URL in the aforementioned channels (Mail, Messages, and Safari in private browsing mode). In sum, the real impact would be IF you’re tracking individual user activity through these channels.