In June 2022, Mozilla Firefox 102 was released with a feature that strips query parameters from URLs that track users as they navigate the web. The feature is called “Query Parameter Stripping,” and the purpose is to protect the privacy of users who don’t want to be trailed online.
Now that Firefox has given its users the ability to strip query parameters, here’s what marketers need to know.
What are query parameters?
Query parameters are a set of texts that are automatically added to the end of a URL to pass on data. These parameters identify specific content or actions based on the data being passed.
Query parameters appear as a “?” followed by a series of text. To add multiple parameters, an “&” is added in between each branch. For instance: www.example.com/?branch&product
To better understand what a query parameter is, let’s use the link to this HubSpot blog post about using video to humanize your brand. The link to this blog post is:
However, if I were to click on this same link on Facebook, the URL would appear as:
Everything after the “?” doesn’t make a difference in terms of where the URL takes you but it provides Facebook (and for the sake of transparency, HubSpot) information about who’s clicking, what they’re clicking, and why.
How do query parameters help marketers?
The information from query parameters helps marketers optimize their company’s websites to create a more user-friendly experience. Essentially query parameters play a significant role in evaluating the touchpoints consumers encounter online on their path to purchase (attributions).
Query parameters also help track content performance across different platforms — they also help companies figure out the right ads to have on their websites to boost ad revenue.
How will this affect marketers going forward?
For now, the feature is a setting that has to be manually activated by the Firefox user. Once activated, any significant navigation event — like opening a new window or tab, clicking links, or redirects between URLs — will result in the removal of query parameters from the destination URL.
This could impact attributions for sites like Facebook, HubSpot, and other websites using query parameters in the sense that some attributions may not be reflected accurately.
Going forward, marketers using query parameters should be aware that users of Firefox 102 and beyond may not accurately reflect attributions.
Marketers should also be prepared for the possibility that Mozilla could make Query Parameter Stripping a default setting in the future. Preparation could be using other methods to track user behavior. Another method would be to gather data through website audits to optimize the usefulness of your site to consumers.