This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Google Ads and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is a popular paid marketing tool. With Google Ads, you set a budget, select keywords, and publish ads that appear on Google search results pages relevant to your keywords. Google Ads collects data about campaigns that businesses can use to measure their effectiveness.
What is Google BigQuery?
Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.
Getting data out of Google Ads
Google provides a SOAP API for Google Ads. The first step of getting your data into your data warehouse is pulling the data off of Google's servers by using the AdWords API's Reporting features. This is a subset of the API's functionality, which also includes the ability to manage ads.
You can also link your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts to allow the data to cross-pollinate. This can provide richer reporting due to the breadth of knowledge that exists in Google Analytics about the people who may have viewed or clicked your ads.
You can extract granular data from AdWords API reports, allowing you to see things like impressions, clickthrough rates, and CPC broken out by time period.
Loading data into Google BigQuery
Google Cloud Platform offers a helpful guide for loading data into BigQuery. You can use the
bq command-line tool to upload the files to your datasets, adding schema and data type information along the way. The
bq load command is the workhorse here. You can find its syntax in the bq command-line tool quickstart guide. Iterate through this process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.
Keeping Google Ads data up to date
So, now what? You've built a script that pulls data from Google Ads and loads it into your data warehouse, but what happens tomorrow when you have thousands of new impressions?
The key is to build your script in such a way that it can also identify incremental updates to your data. If you can identify some fields that auto-increment, you could use them to give your script the ability to recognize new data. You can then set your script up as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.
Other data warehouse options
BigQuery is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, Snowflake, or Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, To Azure SQL Data Warehouse, and To S3.
Easier and faster alternatives
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.
Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from Google Ads to Google BigQuery automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Google Ads data via the API, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.