Naming Your Campaigns: The Unsung Hero of PPC

By Chadd Powell | @ChaddPowell | Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing

Nothing kills the excitement of a PPC conversation like talking about how you name your campaigns. No really, try discussing your finely tuned naming strategy at your next party, even a PPC one. You’ll notice you have the snack table all to yourself.


How you name your campaigns can make your PPC life easier or a lot harder. As an analyst I deal with a lot of PPC accounts on a regular basis and I see all types of naming strategies (or lack thereof). I’ve seen organized accounts where the campaign names convey all the relevant information and I’ve seen accounts where the campaign names look like they came from a random name generator.


We’ve all seen PPC accounts that make us scratch our heads in confusion and a bad naming strategy is often the first warning sign of trouble to come. Don’t feel bad if your naming strategy isn’t up to par, it’s an easy thing to gloss over when you’re under pressure to get campaigns up and running.


So the big question is, why spend the time upfront thinking through a naming strategy for your campaigns?


The answer is time. Being able to look at a campaign name and know the basics of what that campaign is about (search or display, geo-targeting, match type, product type, etc.) can help you waste less time figuring out basic campaign information. That means more time to troubleshoot and dive deeper into your campaigns.


Let’s look at a couple of reasons for having a consistent and clear naming strategy for your accounts. We’ll keep the focus on naming campaigns, but the ideas apply equally to naming ad groups and ads.


The Mile High View


When you log into any type of PPC account the first thing you typically see is the list of campaigns and relevant metrics. I call this the mile high view. It’s here that you can see the general pulse of your account and how it’s performing.


It’s also at this view that you want as much information as possible readily apparent to whoever is viewing the account. The more digging it takes to figure out things like targeting or the campaign’s general focus the less time you have to do other things.


As busy PPC folks, a few minutes saved here and there can add up quickly and we could all use extra time when it comes to taming the wilds of PPC.


So what does a well thought out naming strategy look like? Let’s look at an example.


Let’s say you’re creating a paid search campaign for a shoe company that targets running shoes. It’s going to be a search campaign and it’s geo-targeted to their Chicago market. Your choice is between one of the two following campaign names:


Option 1

Running Shoes


Option 2

Running Shoes_Search_Chicago


This is a basic example, but option 2 gives you a ton more information on what this campaign is about. Now as soon as you log in and see this campaign you know what it’s focused on (running shoes), what network it’s on (search), and where (Chicago).


If the rest of your campaigns follow a similar naming strategy, you can see how on first glance you get a bunch of relevant information without having to look for it.


How people choose to name their campaigns can and will differ. You may want to include more or less information, but its key to have a strategy that is consistent across the board.


This has the added benefit of not only helping you figure out the account and campaigns faster, but it helps whoever else might be looking at them to.


Reporting Is Easier


Having a detailed and consistent campaign name is also a huge benefit when it comes to reporting. Especially when it comes to doing things in Excel. Just as you can log into a platform and get the mile high view discussed above, the same can be said when pulling data into spreadsheets and other reporting tools.


One particular example is if you pull data from multiple platforms (Adwords, Bing, Facebook, etc.). Say you’re looking at performance across multiple platforms and are combining data into a single spreadsheet. If you’ve used a naming strategy that takes this type of data analysis into account, you can easily sort and understand which campaigns are from which platform.


Below are some examples of a consistent naming strategy across platforms. We’ll use the same scenario from above, but now we have to account for different platforms.


Adwords_Running Shoes_Search_Chicago

Bing_Running Shoes_Search_Chicago


Now when you pull this data together you can separate your Bing campaigns from your Adwords campaigns or you can calculate them as a whole. If you’re doing calculations based on a portfolio model then you are very likely to look at performance as whole across all platforms as well as between platforms.




Coming up with campaign names and a strategy behind them isn’t the most exciting thing to do in the world of PPC. It can seem like a lot of work that can be better used somewhere else, but it does pay dividends in the long run when it comes to saving time.


It also benefits anyone else who has to look into the account who may not have been part of building it out. Whether that’s an analyst crunching numbers or someone else inheriting the account, a clear and concise naming strategy can be the difference between understanding and confusion.


There aren’t any steadfast rules on how to name your campaigns or what information to include. You’ll always battle between being concise and including the most relevant information.


Think through your own campaigns and naming strategies, are they helping you or hurting you?