How to Improve Paid Media Analysis and Performance with Naming Conventions
Naming conventions enable you to 1) join disparate data sources, 2) segment reporting; and 3) create audiences. We cover their benefits and best practices.
The different benefits of a paid media naming convention
Paid Media naming conventions refer to the naming structure of different elements from a performance campaign; such as URLs (UTM values, ref queries, etc), Ad Server (campaign, placement, etc) and Ad Platform (campaign, ad group, etc) fields. They define the taxonomy of your campaigns, and can affect reporting, budget control, analysis, audience creation and more. An effective naming convention should bring you the following benefits:
1) Clarity and Self-Serve Reporting
This is a benefit of naming conventions in general, not exclusive to paid media. Consistent and clear naming conventions enable marketing, finance and leadership stakeholders to self-serve on their reporting needs, by easily understanding what’s running where.
2) Unified Data Reporting Across Platforms
Without naming conventions, disparate data sources such as Snowplow, Campaign Manager and Meta can’t be joined to create a singular view. By adding a unique identifier to naming conventions, you can merge data for a comprehensive view of campaign performance and calculate metrics that rely on multiple sources (such as first-party tracked CPAs).
In the example below of a client of mine, you can see how the Ad Server’s Placement ID is included in both the Ad Platform and the URL naming conventions in order to create a singular view:
3) Enabling Detailed Segmentation and Analysis
Naming conventions enable marketers to surpass the limitations of standard reporting, allowing for advanced segmentation and deeper analysis. That’s achieved by including custom campaign fields, such as funnel stage or target demographics, in the naming convention. Marketers can then segment campaigns in a way that’s relevant for their business and testing strategy:
4) Enhanced Event Tracking Clarity and Audience Creation*
URL naming conventions enable you to associate custom values to users that click on your ads. For example, if you include “Funnel Stage” on your URL convention, you will be able to segment users on Google Analytics depending if they entered your site through an Awareness or Conversion campaigns. You can use these URL values for analysis, but you can also use them for audience creation. For example, you can retarget users who came from Linkedin (e.g.
utm_source=Linkedin) on Meta.
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*Dependent on click-tracking attribution (which has gaps).
The different paid media elements you should name
There are three paid media elements that should have a defined naming convention:
Ad Platform : This refers to the naming structure of campaigns, ad groups, and creatives. The taxonomy should take into consideration how you split out your budget (e.g. per market or target) and what segments you require for reporting (e.g. per creative messaging) .
Ad Server If you’re running programmatic or direct buys, it’s likely that your Ad Server is your source of truth for impressions and/or clicks. It’s important that Ad Server and Ad Platform naming align, in order to be able to calculate cost-related metrics with Ad Server data.
UTMs/URLs: Query parameters in the URL (such as UTM) are what enables you to identify the campaigns users have come from in your website analytics.
Upgrading your naming convention
It’s important to note that a naming convention is something you should update it as seldom as possible, since adding or removing values will lead to changes across marketing and data. You should approach upgrading your naming convention with a structured approach. We recommend starting with the following activities:
1. Assess Your Current Campaign Structure
Begin by reviewing your existing campaigns. Identify the different elements involved in your campaign strategy, such as unique ad platforms, campaign types, target audiences, and creatives. Understanding the current landscape is crucial for determining what matters to your business and how to best apply naming conventions.
2. Define Your Goals and Key Metrics
Clearly articulate what you aim to achieve with your campaigns. Are you focusing on brand awareness, lead generation, or sales conversions? Determining your primary objectives will guide the structure of your naming conventions, ensuring they align with your KPIs.
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3. Define Your Sources of Truth
What metrics do you need to track in what platforms? If you must report on “Cost per Landing” for Facebook Ads and that landing conversion event must come from Amplitude, then your naming convention should enable you join Amplitude and Meta data.
4. Build a Standardised Naming Template
Build a template (e.g. a Google Sheet) that will enable campaign managers to create the required naming for all elements they use. This template will be used on their day-to-day.
5. Establish Clear Guidelines
Develop a set of guidelines that dictate how each element of the campaign should be named. Consistency is key, so make sure these guidelines are easily accessible to everyone involved in the campaign creation process. I would also recommend having a dedicated owner for managing values and the template itself.
6. Educate Your Team
Educate your team about the importance of these naming conventions and how to apply them. Ensure that everyone, from campaign managers to data analysts, understands the structure and the rationale behind it. This step is crucial for ensuring adherence to the conventions.
Best Practices for Naming Conventions
When developing naming conventions for your performance marketing campaigns, several key considerations ensure they are both practical and impactful:
1. Tailor to Ad Platform Taxonomy
Different ad platforms have unique features and limitations. For instance, LinkedIn may not offer certain types of segmentation like market levels or device types. It’s crucial to tailor your naming conventions to align with the specific capabilities and limitations of each platform you use.
2. Strategic Creative Grouping Pre-Production
Before launching into creative production, group your creative assets based on specific hypotheses or goals. This foresight facilitates more nuanced post-campaign analysis, such as directly comparing the performance of different creative styles like stock images versus custom UX designs.
3. Prioritise Use of IDs Over Names
While names of campaign elements can change, their IDs remain constant. Prioritise using these IDs in your naming conventions for more consistent and reliable tracking across the lifespan of a campaign.
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4. Balance Detail with Campaign Agility
Your naming convention should add clarity without constraining campaign flexibility. Avoid over-segmentation or overly complex naming structures that might impede efficient campaign execution or adjustments.
5. Implement Checks for Error Mitigation
Mistakes in naming can lead to data misinterpretation. Establish a monitoring system, such as a dashboard, to regularly review naming inconsistencies or errors, ensuring data integrity.
6. Simplify and Automate Wherever Possible
Streamline the naming process to reduce manual errors and save time. Use tools like Google Sheets equipped with templates and formulas to standardise names and URLs. Automation in naming ensures consistency and reduces the chance of errors. Whenever possible, use URL dynamic parameters macros like Meta’s and Google’s.
7. Centralise Management of Naming Values:
Create a centralised process for determining and managing naming values. This control prevents ad-hoc or inconsistent naming practices and maintains uniformity across various campaigns and platforms.
By keeping these considerations in mind, you can create a naming convention system that is efficient, consistent, and adaptable, enhancing your campaign tracking and analysis capabilities. Remember, the goal is not just organisation for its own sake, but to create a system that brings tangible improvements to your marketing insights and decisions.
Solving Disorganisation and Opacity in Performance Marketing
Naming conventions bring order, clarity, and depth to the analysis of marketing efforts, transforming raw data into actionable insights. This streamlined approach not only saves time and resources but also significantly enhances the strategic decision-making process in performance marketing. They also bring direct benefits to performance, such as the ability to create granular audiences.
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