04. Apr 2012 01:04
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Google AdWords API

AdWords Account
AdWords Account

Google AdWords, the nice little ads on the right hand side of the Google results, are todays standard of online advertising. No longer do companies print that amount of expensive advertising or put banners and pop-ups on other peoples or companies websites as they did back in the 90s. AdWords has changed a lot in that area and is still in a progress of continious improvement. With more competition and also unqualified people hitting search engine advertising you have to take certain actions to prevent yourself or your company from loosing money.

With this article today I'd like to show you how to improve your ads with the Google AdWords API, how the AdWords API works and how you can also save advertising money with it by preventing bad conversion rates before they happen.

AdWords API requires My Client Center account and will charge

If you want to use the AdWords API you have to have a My Client Center (MCC) account. Also Google will only provide you a limited number of free AdWords API tokens so that you have to pay for the usage of the AdWords API as you pay for your advertising. This is somewhat kind of nonsense as even good webmasters with a small AdWords account might want to use the API to link the account to their shop systems and don't really need a My Client Center.

However the video on the right shows how to link your existing account to a My Client Center account. Also charging for API access while not charging for UI usage is kind of nonsense as well. Google should be happy about the fact that people automate as this, from my experience, leads to a higher number of ads added within Google AdWords.

Connecting the AdWords API with .NET

Usually we don't provide code snippets in .NET here mostly we do our stuff in Java, PHP and other OS-independent languages. In this case we had a backend running Microsoft proprietary technology so we were required to actually write it in C# with .NET 4.0. All you need is the Google API AdWords .NET Client Library and link the Dlls into you Visual Studio project. When you've got the DLLs linked you need to add an app.config or web.config file with your Google AdWords API library configuration. The following video from the AdWords client library developers shows you the first steps.

We don't cover the AdWords API basics here and instead focus on the business requirements that might lead to API usage and then show some in-depth code that otherwise is hard to get to work with the AdWords API if you don't have a full example.

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When to use the AdWords API

The intention of the Google AdWords API is not to allow people to write bots that create billions of ads and spam Google AdWords. The AdWords API, as many API's have that objective, is there to allow you to automate things you'd otherwise do manually. I strongly encourage everybody to write your ad copies by hand and have multiple ones tested as only human ads can focus human customers. Let's look at what I think the API is good for. I guess the kind of fraud or spam the AdWords API would be good for is the reason why Google is so restrictive with access to it.

Disabling AdWords ads whose products are out of stock

The most common scenario is that you or your employee or media agency creates a bunch of campaigns and keywords for you which work quite good until the day some of your products are out of stock because they may no longer be available. Without the AdWords API someone would either have to notify the AdWords guy to switch the campaigns, ad copies or keywords off or the guy running them would have to check himself with your website or other data sources. That's really stuff you need to automate with the Google AdWords API as manual checks here are just too prone to errors. Nothing is worse than advertising for stuff you don't or you can't sell.

The AdWords API code above is pretty easy and does a simple job as it just queries all AdGroups that you got in your AdWords account and then iterates through the AdGroups. You could now turn them on and off again and sync with your ERP or CRM (or shop system) that you've got in the background.

Showing real prices and shipping information in your AdWords ads

It is a well known fact that ad copies that include prices work better than just generic ones. Now, not just due to the policy that Google has you cannot use standard or estimated prices, but once a user does not get the advertised price you'll get poor conversions and might even get into legal problems.

Google AdWords along with its Ad Parameter feature and the API solves this issue by allowing you to insert dynamic data as text. The official Google AdWords Blog covers the story about AdParams pretty well in "Setting ad parameters with the AdParamService". The code below again is part of our application and shows how to add a value to an existing ad param.

The above method takes the ad group id and the price which is then inserted as a string into the first param of that keyword. The application was also build to highly multitask and spread the operations into different threads, but that lead to a variety of different errors with the AdWords API as it seemed Google blocks massive amounts of parallel requests from one IP address.

There's one little thing you should keep in mind: Make sure you can exactly match AdGroups to products or services. If you're selling books, have the ISBN in your AdGroup title (which is just for internal use) so that a software working on the AdWords API can match it to a product. If you're selling shoes or computers have the GTIN linked into it. If you're selling absolutely crazy stuff, make sure you have a unique code or use your internal database ids or identification codes.

Performing custom bid strategies with your AdWords campaigns

Although you might not be familiar with the AdWords API you might already use it. Many so called BidManagement systems use the API to retrieve data from your AdWords account and update the bids you put on the keywords. If you want to develop your own bid strategy and set bids based on how much clicks you need for a sale and what your margin is then the API can help you control your account and do the day-to-day management or simplify your AdWords management processes. Again, whatever you do here do not try to fully automate your AdWords account management and bid processes as one of your competitors might find out what your bid process is and then turn your own weapons against you. There should always be at least a minimal human check of whats going on with your money.

Connect products with AdWords

This last chapter of our Google AdWords API article is also the conclusion about the AdWords API. The AdWords API can connect your products and your strategy with your advertising. Once a product is out of stock, don't advertise it. Once a product gets cheaper, go advertise a cheaper price right now. That is the power of digital advertising and you should not just use with AdWords, but with banner advertising as well. Always have technology make the overall experience of your advertising a good one. Move as far away from the good old static print ads as you can and drive as much dynamic into it. Advertising becomes more a communication process between you and your customer (e.g. take a look at Facebook) than that well known 1-to-many tv or print advertising we know.

Books about the topic „Pay Per Click“

The following books are all about the topic "Pay Per Click" and are highly recommended. I have not read all of these books, but a good number of them and some of them I used for my research as well.
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Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing for Dummies
Peter Kent, John Wiley & Sons
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Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising (Ultimate Series)
Richard Stokes, Entrepreneur Press
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Pay-Per-Click Hour a Day
David Szetela, Sybex
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Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing For Dummies by Peter Kent (2006-02-06)
Peter Kent, For Dummies

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