How to load data from Bing Ads to MS SQL Server
Access your data on Bing Ads
The first step in loading your Bing Ads data to any kind of data warehouse solution is to access your data and start extracting it.
Bing Ads has a very rich API (here) that is primarily offered for interacting with the platform and to create and run campaigns programmatically. A big part of the API is also a rich reporting system that helps you understand how the campaigns you run perform.
By default, Bing Ads exposes a large number of different reports, the current number of available reports based on the latest documentation is 35.
Reports can have different types of aggregation defined by you. The default is set to “Summary” which means that you will end up with a report for the whole time of your account. For analytic purposes, it is advised to set the aggregation to a daily basis. This is also the lowest time granularity that you can have on Bing Ads.
The Bing Ads API is implemented using the SOAP protocol, this will add some complexity to your development as you will have to manage SOAP and XML responses.
Also, keep in mind that as in every other API, you will have to respect the API usage limits and make sure that you handle errors correctly.
Reports in Bing Ads are configured by selecting the following:
- Columns, the columns that you want to be included in the report
- Filters, you should provide custom filters that filter the report data
- Scope, to reduce data that you get based on specific accounts.
About Bing Ads
Bing Ads, is a service from Microsoft that provides Search Engine Marketing based on the Bing and Yahoo! search engines. As of 2015, Bing Ads had a 33% market share in the United States, so it’s a channel that advertisers always consider in addition to others.
As with the rest of the competition, Bing Ads provides pay-per-click advertising, ads are displayed based on keywords on the search engine, where different customers bid on the price and they are getting charged when a user of the search engine is actually clicking on a promoted search result.
Bing Ads is a rich advertisement platform that also offers an API that allows you to programmatically interact with it and also to pull out metrics and reports about the performance of your campaigns. In this post, we are interested mainly for accessing these reports through the API for further analysis.
Transform and prepare your Bing Ads data for MS SQL Server Replication
After you have accessed your data on Bing Ads, you will have to transform it based on two main factors,
- The limitations of the database that is going to be used
- The type of analysis that you plan to perform
Each system has specific limitations on the data types and data structures that it supports. If for example, you want to push data into Google BigQuery, then you can send nested data like JSON directly, but keep in mind that in the case of a SOAP API like Bing Ads, you get XML responses. Of course, when you are dealing with tabular data stores, like Microsoft SQL Server, this is not an option. Instead, you will have to flatten out your data, just as in the case of JSON, before loading it into the database.
Also, you have to choose the right data types. Again, depending on the system that you will send the data to and the data types that the API exposes to you, you will have to make the right choices. These choices are important because they can limit the expressivity of your queries and limit your analysts on what they can do directly out of the database.
With Bing Ads, you have two main additional sources of complexity. When it comes to data types you have to keep in mind that SOAP is using XML to describe the service and data, so any data types that you have to map are coming from XML and might have automatically be transformed into the primitive data types of the language that you are using.
Also, you have to consider that the reports you’ll get from Bing Ads are like CSV files in terms of their structure and you need to somehow identify what and how to map to a table into your database.
Export data from Bing Ads to SQL Server
So, after you have managed to access your data on Bing Ads and you have also figured out the structure that data will have on your database, you need to load data into the database, in our case into a Microsoft SQL Server.
As a feature-rich and mature product, MS SQL Server offers a large and diverse set of methods for loading data into a database. One way of importing data into your database is by using the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard. With it and through a visual interface you will be able to bulk load data from a number of data sources that are supported.
Another way for importing bulk data into an SQL Server, both on Azure and on-premises, is by using the bcp utility. This is a command-line tool that is built specifically for bulk loading and unloading of data from an MS SQL database.
Finally and for compatibility reasons, especially if you are managing databases from different vendors, you can BULK INSERT SQL statements.
In a similar way and as it happens with the rest of the databases, you can also use the standard INSERT statements, where you will be adding data row-by-row directly to a table. It is the most basic and straightforward way of adding data into a table but it doesn’t scale very well with larger datasets.
Updating your Bing Ads data on MS SQL Server
As you will be generating more data on Bing Ads, you will need to update your older data on an MS SQL Server database. This includes new records, together with updates to older records that for any reason have been updated on Bing Ads.
You will need to periodically check Bing Ads for new data and repeat the process that has been described previously while updating your currently available data if needed. Updating an already existing row on a SQL Server table is achieved by creating UPDATE statements.
Another issue that you need to take care of is the identification and removal of any duplicate records on your database. Either because Bing Ads does not have a mechanism to identify new and updated records or because of errors on your data pipelines, duplicate records might be introduced to your database.
In general, ensuring the quality of data that is inserted in your database is a big and difficult issue and MS SQL Server features like TRANSACTIONS can help tremendously, although they do not solve the problem in the general case.
The best way to load data from Bing Ads to MS SQL Server
So far we just scraped the surface of what you can do with MS SQL Server and how to ingest data into it. Things can get even more complicated if you want to integrate data coming from different sources.
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