Apple Mail opens reported in Email Analytics

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (Apple MPP) introduced some challenges for subscriber data. We have made some changes in Email Analytics to give you the best data possible. Apple MPP only applies to the native Apple Mail app that is standard with Apple operating systems.

Apple opens defined

Depending on the OS version, the users' choice for activating Apple Mail Privacy, and the inbox provider or email app chosen, we categorize Apple opens with the following definitions.

Non-MPP opens

Since users must opt in to Apple Mail Privacy service, not every open is hidden. For these Apple Mail app users, opens are labeled Apple iPhone, Apple Mail, and Apple iPad in Litmus Analytics.

Opens on third-party apps like Outlook or Gmail that also run on Apple devices are not included.

Opens before OS 15

For opens made in Apple Mail prior to Apple iOS 15 (iPhone), iPad OS 15, and Mac OS Monterey you will see opens reported as:

  • Apple iPhone - opens made on a mobile device using the standard Apple Mail mobile app.
  • Apple iPad - opens made on an iPad using the standard Apple Mail app.
  • Apple Mail - opens made on a desktop using the standard Apple Mail app. 

Opens after OS 15

Opens made in Apple's Mail app after iOS 15 (iPhone), iPad OS 15, and Mac OS Monterey will show as: 

  • Via Apple's Image Cache Light Mode
  • Via Apple's Image Cache Dark Mode

These are now labeled as  Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens in the reports. These are the opens that are coming from the new Apple Mail email clients that we know are unreliable due to the way that Apple is making data available to the sender. 

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Changes in Litmus 

  • Reliable open counts: Litmus now separates the email opens that we believe are from reliable providers from those that we know are inflated or unreliable (Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens). 
  • Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens: Litmus still reports and counts all opens received from the new Apple Mail clients. These are now labeled as Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens in the reports. These are the opens from new Apple Mail email clients that we know are unreliable due to the way that Apple is making data available to the sender. This applies to Apple Mail versions starting with Apple iOS15 (iPhone), iPadOS 15 and MacOS Monterey. 
  • Segmenting of email client data:  Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens are segmented out from reliable opens in the email client reports and data. The Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature hides email client information and this impacts all email opens sent to Litmus from the Apple Mail app, regardless of whether a user opted in to Apple Mail Privacy, on the following devices running the new operating systems: iOS 15 (iPhone), iPadOS 15 (iPad), and macOS Monterey (Mac). 
  • Email Client and Engagement reports: These reports are filtered to only include the reliable opens. 
  • Dark Mode %: All tracking code reports contain an overall Dark Mode %, including Apple Privacy Impacted opens.
  • Apple Audience Report: Customers who used Litmus EA prior to the Apple Mail Privacy Protection rollout had a static Apple Audience Report in Litmus. The report will reflect the previous 90 days prior to the Apple MPP launch. This data will remain in each account for future analytics estimation purposes but is not available any longer.

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Determining reliable opens

Prior to Appleā€™s release of Mail Privacy Protection, Litmus conducted testing of our Email Analytics tracking codes by using Apple Mail with the Mail Privacy Protection feature turned on. The tests showed that the total open counts coming from users of the Apple Mail Privacy feature were inflated and therefore should be excluded from open counts used to gauge campaign success. In addition, Litmus can't receive reliable email client data from users of Apple Mail on the new operating systems, regardless of whether they opt into Apple Mail Privacy. Therefore we categorize all opens from the new Apple Mail apps on those new operating systems  (iOS 15, iPad OS 15, and Monterey Mac and newer) as unreliable. 

We refer to the email opens that exclude Apple Privacy-Impacted Opens as reliable opens. All the charts and tables in Litmus Email Analytics reports exclude the Apple Privacy Impacted opens and are filtered to the reliable opens.   

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Impact on read rate for Apple Mail users

The read rate and all other metrics from this segment of your audience with the exception of Dark Mode and Light Mode are impacted for any user of the Apple Mail apps on the newer operating systems. All engagement reports in Litmus Email Analytics are automatically filtered to only display metrics from reliable opens. Individual Level Data reports reflect this impact with a -1 in the read_seconds field.

Individual open reliability

Opens coming from users of Apple Mail apps on iOS 15 and MacOS Monterey and newer can be distinguished from other email clients. We categorize Apple Mail Privacy Impacted opens into its own count for each tracking code. The count of all other opens is categorized as reliable for purposes of comparison of email performance and analysis.

Opens from users who opted into Apple Mail Privacy

We cannot detect whether a user has opted into the Apple Mail Privacy feature so we categorize all the opens from the new Apple Mail apps on the new operating systems as Apple Privacy Impacted opens. 

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Details from Apple Privacy-Impacted opens

Although we believe that the total counts of opens are highly inflated for Apple Mail Privacy users, the opens we count do provide a number of uses to email marketers. 

You can export the tracking code report data to identify those users of the new Apple Mail apps in your email list. You can create a separate segment for A/B testing or other analysis that you deem to be a reliable opens audience. The export files contain a field for reliability category.

To analyze trends, it may be useful to track changes to the count of Apple Privacy Impacted opens over time or when comparing campaign results to each other.

Some of the Apple Privacy Impacted opens contain information about dark mode and light mode usage to provide you with data about your subscriber's reading environment, useful for design and testing purposes. 

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Other email clients with inflated opens

While open counts can be inflated by the way that some email clients cache or automatically download images in emails, these anomalies are much less prevalent than they are in the Apple Privacy Impacted opens. There has been no major catalyst or event impacting the opens from other email clients that use image caching, so marketers can continue to rely on the metrics gleaned from this audience the same way they always have.

For more reading on this see Limitations to Email Analytics and Gmail opens reported in Email Analytics


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