AdWords to Snowflake

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from AdWords and load it into Snowflake. (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 an extremely popular paid marketing tool. Since Google has almost 70% market share when it comes to searching the internet, this comes as no surprise. It's an easy tool to use. You just set your budget, select your keywords and publish the ads. This will create text ads that appear in the results of Google searches relevant to your keywords. The data AdWords collects about your campaigns is handy when it's time to measure their effectiveness and decide how to optimize them.

About Snowflake

Snowflake is a data warehouse solution that is entirely cloud based. It's a managed service. If you don't want to deal with hardware, software, or upkeep for a data warehouse you're going to love Snowflake. It runs on the wicked fast Amazon Web Services architecture using EC2 and S3 instances. Snowflake is designed to be flexible and easy to work with where other relational databases are not. One example of this is the query execution. Snowflake creates virtual warehouses where query processing takes place. These virtual warehouses run on separate compute clusters, so querying one of these virtual warehouses doesn't slow down the others. If you have ever had to wait for a query to complete, you know the value of speed and efficiency for query processing.

Getting data out of AdWords

The first step of getting your AdWords data into your data warehouse is actually pulling that data off of Google’s servers. You can do this using the AdWords API’s Reporting features, which are available to all AdWords customers. This is just a subset of that 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 lead to much richer reporting due to the breadth of knowledge that exists in Google Analytics about the people who may have viewed or clicked your ads.

The data you extract from AdWords API reports can be quite granular, allowing you to see things like impressions, clickthrough rates, and CPC broken out by time period.

Preparing data for Snowflake

Depending on the structure that you data is in, you may need to prepare it for loading. Take a look at the supported data types for Snowflake and make sure that the data you've got will map neatly to them. If you have a lot of data, you should compress it. Gzip, bzip2, Brotli, Zstandard v0.8 and deflate/raw deflate compression types are all supported.

One important thing to note here is that you don't need to define a schema in advance when loading JSON data into Snowflake. Onward to loading!

Loading data into Snowflake

There is a good reference for this step in the Data Loading Overview section of the Snowflake documentation. If there isn’t much data that you’re trying to load, then you might be able to use the data loading wizard in the Snowflake web UI. Chances are, the limitations on that tool will make it a non-starter as a reliable ETL solution. There two main steps to getting data into Snowflake:

  • Use the PUT command to stage files
  • Use the COPY INTO table command to load prepared data into the awaiting table from the prior step.

For the COPY step, you’ll have the option of copying from your local drive, or from Amazon S3. One of Snowflakes’ slick features lets you to make a virtual warehouse that will power the insertion process.

Keeping AdWords data up to date

So, now what? You’ve built a script that pulls data from AdWords and loads it into Redshift, 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. Lastly, set your script up as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.

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 Snowflake data warehouse.