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How to load data from Google AdWords to MS SQL Server

Extract your data from Google AdWords

serializedThe AdWords API allows applications to interact directly with the AdWords platform. You can build applications to more efficiently manage large or complex AdWords accounts and campaigns. Contrary to the rest of the APIs that we have covered in this series of posts, the API is implemented only using the SOAP protocol and it doesn’t offer a RESTful web implementation.

Nevertheless, they offer a number of client libraries that you can use for your language or framework of choice. They officially support clients in the following languages:

  • Java
  • .Net
  • PHP
  • PERL
  • Python
  • Ruby

The AdWords API is a quite complex product that exposes a lot of functionality to the user, ranging from reporting to do the bidding and programmatic advertisement. As the scope of this post is the extraction of its data, with the aim of loading the data to a data warehouse for further analysis, we’ll focus only on that part of the AdWords API.

There are many ways of interacting with the data that AdWords API gathers. One way is to link your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts and actually enrich the data of your analytics with data coming from AdWords. The other possible way, if you have the luxury to afford a Google analytics premium account, is to load your data directly to Google BigQuery. From there, you can either do your analysis from BigQuery or export your data to another data warehouse.

We’ll assume that you do not have a Google Analytics premium account, to be honest, if you had you wouldn’t be looking at this post anyway, but you still want to extract data and load it to your own data warehouse solution. To do that we’ll utilize the Report related functionality of the AdWords API. The API supports a huge number of reports that you can request, and it is possible to change the granularity of your results by passing specific parameters. Defining what kind of data you want to get back as part of your report can be done in two different ways:

  • Using an XML-based report definition.
  • Using an AWQL-based report definition.

If you want to use an XML-based report definition you have to include a parameter named __rdxml that will contain an XML serialised definition of the report you want to retrieve.

HTML
<reportDefinition xmlns="https://adwords.google.com/api/adwords/cm/v201509">
<selector>
<fields>CampaignId</fields>
<fields>Id</fields>
<fields>Impressions</fields>
<fields>Clicks</fields>
<fields>Cost</fields>
<predicates>
<field>Status</field>
<operator>IN</operator>
<values>ENABLED</values>
<values>PAUSED</values>
</predicates>
</selector>
<reportName>Custom Adgroup Performance Report</reportName>
<reportType>ADGROUP_PERFORMANCE_REPORT</reportType>
<dateRangeType>LAST_7_DAYS</dateRangeType>
<downloadFormat>CSV</downloadFormat>
</reportDefinition>

AWQL is a SQL-like language for performing queries against most common AdWords API services. Any service with a query method is supported; queryable fields for each service are listed here.

As a comparison you can see the difference between using XML and AWQL below:

XML

JAVASCRIPT
<serviceSelector>
<fields>Id</fields>
<fields>Name</fields>
<predicates>
<field>Status</field>
<operator>EQUALS</operator>
<values>ENABLED</values>
</predicates>
<ordering>
<field>Name</field>
<sortOrder>ASCENDING</sortOrder>
</ordering>
<paging>
<startIndex>0</startIndex>
<numberResults>50</numberResults>
</paging>
</serviceSelector>

AWQL

JAVASCRIPT
CampaignPage p = campaignService.query("SELECT Id, Name
WHERE Status = 'ENABLED'
ORDER BY Name
DESC LIMIT 0,50");

As we can see, the AdWords API has a very expressive way of defining what data we want to get from it and various options to do that. If you feel more comfortable with SQL-like languages you can use AWQL, or if you prefer XML you can use that for defining your reports.

Regarding the format of the results you get from the API, there are also multiple options supported.

  • CSVFOREXCEL – Microsoft Excel compatible format
  • CSV – comma separated output format
  • TSV – tab separated output format
  • XML – xml output format
  • GZIPPED-CSV – compressed csv
  • GZIPPED-XML – compressed xml

AdWords , exposes a very rich API which offers you the opportunity to get very granular data about your accounting activities and use it for analytic and reporting purposes. This richness comes with a price though, a large number of complex resources that have to be handled through an also complex protocol.

Google AdWords Data Preparation for Microsoft SQL Server

As in every relational database, SQL Server requires a well-defined database schema before we start populating with data. Data is organized in schemas, which are distinct namespaces where database objects belong to.

The most common database objects are of course tables which have a number of columns with each one having a declared data type. MS SQL Server supports a large number of different data types. This gives us great flexibility in expressing the data that we have and at the same time optimizing our data warehouse.

When working with data coming from web services, where data is usually serialized in JSON, it is important to correctly map the data to the right data types. As changing the data types in the future is a process that might cost in downtime of your database, it is important to spend enough time thinking about the proper data type assignments.

For example, dates in JSON are just strings, but when storing date objects in a database, we can enhance analytics with great capabilities by transforming the raw string data into an appropriate date type. A typical strategy for loading data from AdWords to MS SQL Server database is to create a schema where you will map each API endpoint to a table. Each key inside the API of AdWords endpoint response should be mapped to a column of that table and you should ensure the right conversion to an SQL Server compatible data type.

Of course, you will need to ensure that as the data types from the AdWords API might change, you will adapt your database tables accordingly, there’s no such thing as automatic data type casting. After you have a complete and well-defined data model or schema for Microsoft SQL Server, you can move forward and start loading your data into the database.

Load data from Google AdWords to MS 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 by a number of data sources that are supported.

Your data can be imported from another MS SQL Server, from an Oracle database, from Flat Files, from an Access Data Source, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and finally Azure Blob Storage. Especially if you are using a managed version of MS SQL Server on Azure, you should definitely consider utilizing the Azure Blob Storage connection.

In this way, you will be loading data as Blobs on Azure and your MS SQL Server database will sync with it through the Import and Export Wizard.

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 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 data sets.

So for bulk datasets, you better consider one of the previous methods.

Updating your Google Adwords data on MS SQL Server

As you will be generating more data on AdWords, 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 AdWords.

You will need to periodically check AdWords 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 AdWords 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 the 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 Google AdWords to MS SQL Server

So far we just scraped the surface of what you can do with MS SQL Server and how to load data into it. Things can get even more complicated if you want to integrate data coming from different sources.

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