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iOS 17 Privacy Changes: How to Adapt Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy

When Apple released iOS14.5 in 2020, affiliate marketers worldwide were sent into a frenzy. As part of this landmark update, Apple began phasing out third-party cookies and implementing other changes that altered the way businesses and their affiliates collect user data.

In June 2023, Apple revealed the features and updates that would be included in iOS 17, which is scheduled for release in the fall of this year. While the new update will come with the usual smattering of minor user experience and app changes, it also features some major privacy and security enhancements.

Once again, affiliate and influencer marketers across the industry are responding with a sense of urgency and perceiving an imminent crisis. Fortunately, there is no cause for alarm.

While the upcoming iOS 17 release will certainly impact how brands track consumer behavior, it won’t spell the end of affiliate marketing. Join us as we explore what iOS 17 means (and doesn’t mean) for your affiliate program.


What privacy changes are coming to iOS 17?

There are many updates included with iOS 17, but we’re going to focus on the ones that will most impact your affiliate marketing strategy. These include:

  • Tracking URL Removal: When users open a private browsing window, iOS 17 will automatically remove all tracking information included in the URL. Unknown trackers are blocked completely, which prevents brands from tracking user browsing activity across multiple sites.
  • Photo Library Access Restrictions: iOS 17 will also require apps to ask permission to access users’ entire photo libraries.
  • Limited Calendar Access: After the update, apps will also have to ask permission to access users’ calendars.

Of these upcoming changes, the URL tracking removal feature will impact affiliate marketing the most, as affiliates and advertisers use these links for attribution and commission purposes.


Why Apple is restricting consumer tracking

According to PR Newswire, 86% of Americans believe organizations collect more information than they need. A staggering 81% of Americans believe the potential risks associated with these data collection practices outweigh the benefits.

Owing to these sorts of statistics, the incoming iOS 17 updates are just the latest in a series of steps designed to give consumers more control over their data.

Apple is by no means the only major brand to double down on its efforts to protect consumer data privacy. Google and Android have taken similar measures to restrict when and how brands can track consumers’ digital behavior.

While it’s tempting to look at iOS 17 and other updates as the beginning of the end of affiliate marketing, that’s simply not the case. These changes are fueling the evolution of partnership marketing, not destroying it.


What will and won’t be impacted by iOS 17

Let’s start by discussing which aspects of your affiliate strategy will be affected by the iOS 17 update.

After iOS 17 drops, it will admittedly become marginally more difficult to determine which links or channels are contributing to sales. That said, you can easily circumvent this hurdle with a well-designed attribution strategy and the right combination of tracking tools.

What’s more, the update will negatively affect Meta’s ability to track Facebook Ads and hinder Google Analytics’ ability to track the efficacy of your Google Ads.

However, there’s an important caveat to the iOS 17 URL tracking removal feature: the feature is only active when users browse Safari in private mode.

If they use Safari in standard mode, conduct searches with a different browser (i.e., Google Chrome), or interact with your links within a native app, the URL trackers won’t be affected.


Want to make sure you’re prepared for iOS 17? AP can help

Although the release of iOS 17 isn’t going to be an industry-shaking event bound to derail your affiliate marketing program as many marketers fear, it also isn’t the last data privacy update coming down the big tech pipeline.

If you want to ensure that your affiliate program is prepared to withstand whatever changes come about next, you need a forward-thinking partnership marketing team in your corner. Acceleration Partners (AP) is that team.

As your innovative partner, AP takes the following steps to stay ahead of tech updates and industry changes:

  1. Stay informed by tracking the latest news and anticipating challenges.
  2. Understand the specific changes and their potential impact on user tracking, privacy settings, and data collection.
  3. Evaluate affected tracking methods and brainstorm compliant alternatives.
  4. Help brands adapt their tracking and attribution methods if necessary.
  5. Maintain open communication with affiliate partners and technology platforms to ensure compliance.
  6. Stay compliant with evolving regulations by monitoring and adhering to legal requirements.
  7. Conduct rigorous testing and quality assurance to identify and address any tracking issues.
  8. Invest in continuous education and training to keep our team updated on industry trends and best practices.
  9. Monitor industry feedback to gain insights and proactively mitigate risks.
  10. Foster partnerships and collaborations for knowledge sharing and addressing industry challenges.
  11. Proactively develop new features and services to meet evolving needs. We are committed to helping our clients navigate industry changes and maintain their success in the dynamic digital landscape.


As the leading partnership marketing firm, AP has the expertise, creativity and resources necessary to future-proof your strategy.


Connect with AP today to successfully navigate the privacy landscape and drive strong conversions.