Since mid-October 2018, the fbclid parameter is attached to a lot of outgoing links in Facebook. Currently, there is no comment from Facebook on what exactly is fbclid, but the name of the Facebook parameter gives us some space for assumptions.
Let’s get close to the fbclid parameter
The fbclid parameter which appears in some URL addresses is similar to the Google Ads parameter gclid (Google Click Identifier). In the definition of Google itself, this parameter is defined as follows:
“A GCLID, short for Google Click Identifier, is a unique tracking parameter that Google uses to transfer information between your Google Ads account and your Google Analytics account.”
Eventually, fbclid is a new type of tracking mechanism which seems to bring some important information about visitors and their reactions to the advertiser.
It is also noticeable that if you are not logged in to Facebook, the parameter is not visible to the outgoing links. So one can also assume that possibly user-related data is exchanged here.
Some users are suggesting that the parameter should bypass Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 (ITP).
Google Ads also has a parameter
If you switch to Google Ads and have auto-tagging enabled, it will automatically be appended to each URL of the Google Ads click parameter. It is “gclid”. But you will not find this parameter in Google Analytics because Google filters it out automatically.
Back to Facebook and its click parameter
For a short time, Facebook has a click parameter. And this parameter is appended not only when links are clicked on a Facebook ad, but also in a normal Facebook post. This parameter has the key “fbclid”. The parameter is very similar to the Google Ads parameter gclid.
With this parameter, you can not directly see how many times a page/URL has been visited. Instead, each visit of the same webpage is now perceived by Analytics as a separate URL.
The background: Why does Facebook do that?
Although no official information has been released, we can assume, that the Facebook pixel can use these parameters and link with the respective click or user. This makes a better evaluation in Facebook advertising campaigns possible.
And maybe you have already looked in Facebook Analytics. Right there you will find appropriate values and evaluations.
What if you don’t like it – a simple remedy for the fbclidissue?
The problem of appending parameters to visited URLs occurs again and again in Google Analytics. Therefore, there is a very simple way to remove these parameters from tracking. You do not have to work with Google Tag Manager or any other code. You can fix it in your Google Analytics interface.
Remove Facebook Click ID: That’s how it works
Log in to your Google Analytics account at analytics.google.com and see if you have the parameter. To do this, you have to go to the “Behavior” section => “Website Content” => “All Pages” and enter “fbclid” in the tiny search window.
If you do not have a 0, but a higher value in “page views”, there are already appropriate parameters in your evaluations. To automatically remove them from the URLs, click on Administration in the bottom left corner. In the administration overview, click on “Data view settings” in the right-hand column of the data view.
Around the middle of the settings page you will find a form field for “Exclude URL search parameters”. There you can enter the key of the parameter. In the case of Facebook, this is “fbclid”.
Once you have saved these settings, the parameter will be removed from the URLs in the future. But beware: This setting only applies to all URLs tracked from now on.
Other workarounds for hiding the fbclid parameter:
- Filter 1: Strip fbclid parameters
- Admin>All Filters>Add Filter
- Name=Hide ‘fbclid’ params
- Custom>’Search and Replace’
- Filter Field=Request URI
- Search String=(fbclid=[^&]*&?)
- Replace String=[blank]
- >Add to all relevant views and save
- Filter 2: Hide trailing “?” or “&” left at the end of a URL
- Follow same steps as above, but replace ([?&]$) with [blank]
- More click IDs from different providers
Furthermore, in addition to Facebook and Google Ads, there are many other providers that use corresponding click IDs – for example, Zanox (“zanpid) and Microsoft Bing Ads (“mscklid”). To find out which parameters are interfering with your reports, you need to evaluate the “All Pages” report and act accordingly.
Concerns about the fbclid parameter and its purpose
While Google allows us to decide and control at all times if we want to add the parameter to the final URLs of digital marketing campaigns, Facebook has begun to add the fbclid without prior notice and without allowing any control over it. There is no configuration tool or option that allows us to activate or deactivate the fbclid parameter or we are not aware of it.
You must be careful and check that by adding the fbclid to the URLs used in your posts or in yourpaid campaigns it is not altering with redirects of the Final URL address. Also, make sure that they do not modify other parameters used to direct visits to a specific page of yourwebsite. Beware of the loss of attributions of sessions in Google Analytics as well.
Our disclosure about fbclid
In every possible way, we welcome any improvement that helps us with data analysis and attributions, especially in these days in which social networks generate a large part of the web traffic and the measurement of results and performance of the actions in them increase the time necessary for a correct analysis of data.
We will have to wait for Facebook to comment on it and publish more details on its support pages to confirm our suspicions, but for now, any comments or information is welcome.
Since then, you can benefit from our instructions on how to hide the fbclid parameter from your URL addresses. If you have noticed different functions which can be attributed to fbclid, do not hesitate to share with us in the comments section.