Getting Started with Google Ads/Adwords API

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The Google Ads/Adwords APIs are complicated but you can do it!

We find the plethora of Google documentation for interacting with Google APIs quite confusing and thought we should clear up a bit of our learnings. Google seems to make the process complicated to weed out hobbyists and make it difficult for common shops to query their own data. We also understand the need to protect data and not let API keys roam in the wild and security is very important to take seriously. However, interacting with other platforms like Klaviyo or Mailchimp are far easier and in most cases you can get sample code running in less than 20 minutes. But fear not! Rewards await those who persist!

Perhaps you are thinking now: Well, maybe we’ll just automate our Facebook/Instagram marketing. Unfortunately the Business Manager Ads API approval process isn’t any better. In fact, Facebook requires you to create a video and send it in showing what you are going to do with the API!

But don’t worry, these three ideas below should help you get most of the way there:

Which API?

The first question when interacting with Google Ads is: Which API do you use? Today there are two APIs that let you interact with Google Ads. They are:

Not confusing at all right? The support documentation clarifies that Google Adwords API will be replaced with the Google Ads API. The Google Ads API, however, is in beta. After a few false starts last year it returned to beta due to some performance problems.

On our end we have been using the Google Adwords API, specifically the python library. In time we will migrate to the Google Ads API, but that probably won’t happen this year given we need something that works in production and not a beta API.

If you are just starting, perhaps using the Google Ads API would be the way to go, unless you are looking to manage a lot of accounts right away.

How to Connect?

The second difficulty with getting set up to use the Google Adwords API, or any future API is to get your application approved. This is another gatekeeping mechanism google uses to almost discourage you to use the API. We first applied around March 9th and received an email on March 11th informing us we weren’t approved. We probably had a few exchanges but the last go around of emails we have showed we were again denied on April 6. This time we kept at it giving them all the information they requested. The gatekeepers finally approved us on April 13th. Once we had this access we could finally use the APIs on our clients and our own accounts. Whew!

How to Test?

With Google Ads you need to create another account as a test account. This seems somewhat silly as the logical thing would be to just create a test account within your current Ads account. Nope. Can’t do that. We created a separate gmail account that we somehow were able to link with our Castle Rock account to be able to test different creations. This is one of the most important things that needs to be done as a developer for perfecting and trying out code. Before we ever launch something for our customers we always test it out on a test account.

If you’re like us, you probably searched inside the Google Ads interface thinking: “That can’t be right, why would anyone design it this way? The docs must be old, there must be a way to create a test account here in this interface.”

Nope. Not the case unfortunately. It’s 2020 and you still can’t do it. But fear not! A simple new account (to help increase the Gmail user numbers) will have you up. Just make sure you create a test account as you only get one shot!

Is it Worth It?

Absolutely. For anybody trying to manage SKAGs or more than one account it is essential. Digital Ad spending will only increase and more and more organizations will be using an analytical method to be more effective with their spending.

Google is all to happy to take your money if you want to give it to them on inefficient ads. For example if you are selling T-Shirts Google would love it if you only bid on the word ‘T-Shirt’. This is a common term and they’ll show your ad all day on that. Nevermind that people may be looking for ‘Make a T-Shirt’, ‘history of T-Shirts’, ‘Surf T-Shirts’, etc which may not be relevant to the T-Shirt you are trying to sell.

Having API access creates a feedback loop for creating more efficient ads. It helps you evaluate what you spent, where it was effective, and change allocation of funds to different more effective ad groups.

Help is out there

While we realize this process is difficult we are happy to help walk you through getting an API set up for your organization and customizing a solution that meets your needs. Castle Rock AI is focused on automating AI for digital marketing and we have a variety of ways to tackle difficult problems with an analytical approach. We are math people that specialize in working with creative folks. This is where the true power of connection with customers comes. While analytics, statistics and math is nice, you need true content to connect. Targeting the content to the right audience is where we come in!