AdWords to BigQuery

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from AdWords 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 AdWords?

Google AdWords is a popular paid marketing tool. With AdWords, you set a budget, select keywords, and publish ads that appear on Google search results pages relevant to your keywords. AdWords 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 AdWords

Google provides a SOAP API for AdWords. The first step of getting your AdWords 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 AdWords 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 AdWords data up to date

So, now what? You've built a script that pulls data from AdWords 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, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. 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, and To Panoply.

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 solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your AdWords data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.