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AdWords Scripts – The Democratization Of Automation

Posted By Daniel Bowtell On October 29, 2012 @ 3:12 pm In Featured,News,SEM | 1 Comment

AdWords has been feeding out a lot of new features recently. AdWords Scripts is the most exciting for account managers. This is a big play by Google that really sets AdWords apart from Bing Ads in terms of the democratization of automation. This als

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o appears to be a fairly serious play, with the developers behind Google Apps Script driving this and also trying to build a community around this product. New features are also coming thick and fast; running scripts on an hourly basis having been announced earlier this month.

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Until earlier this year there was a high barrier to entry for any advertiser looking to run any kind of automation. The only option would be to write a program that accesses the AdWords API. There have recently been delays of up to 2 months to get a developer token and quite a stringent set of requirements to meet. There was also always the risk that Google could cut you off if they decided that they didn’t like your application. This meant that only the larger advertisers and agencies were able to commit the significant development resources to tackle this.

AdWords Scripts is a huge game changer here.

Now anyone with a basic knowledge of JavaScript can put together small programs to help manage their account. This hugely lowers the bar for entry and allows even the hobbyist AdWords account manager to get their feet wet. It also allows more experienced AdWords account managers to try new ideas with much lower development costs and a much lower turnaround time.

There are some limitations to AdWords scripting. The most important to note is that there is no “undo” option. If you make a change through AdWords script and something goes wrong you will likely have to fix things manually, keyword-by-keyword, ad-by-ad.

The most obvious of these is that not all aspects of the API are available. Extensions are not yet configurable, although these are on the list to be worked on. This does come with a huge bonus on the side. There is almost seamless integration with the Spreadsheet and Mail APIs. There is also XML processing coming soon for handling things like merchant feeds.

Other limitations are:

  • Only being allowed to have 15 scripts per user account. This is likely to increase but in the meantime the recommendation is to have multiple accounts.
  • Only operating on a max of 100,000 entities – scripts that need to run on more data should run multiple times on different subsets of the account.
  • Scripts can only run for a maximum of 30 minutes – again, running on a subset should solve this although in most circumstances there are probably optimizations that can be made to the script to make it run faster.

As always, Google is pretty tight lipped about what might be coming for a product. XML processing is almost certainly coming. MCC level scripts have been a popular feature request, and I suspect alongside that there might be some consideration of permissions to allow managers to restrict users from running potentially harmful scripts.

As this is based on Apps Scripts there are going to be more Apps Scripts features creeping in. This has great potential for tying into the Tasks API for example and triggering campaigns to go live once somebody completes the task of uploading new content.

10 AdWords Scripting Ideas

  1. Adjust bids according to the weather – AdWords actually provide a sample script for this in their tutorial.
  2. Automatically create analytical reports in Google Docs.
  3. Turn on elements of campaigns and adjust bids in response to stock levels. (At the moment the best option for doing this is with a Google Spreadsheet as an intermediate step. Native AdWords XML processing is coming soon.)
  4. Adjust prices in ads without them having to go through approval using Ad Parameters.
  5. Tap into a web service that tracks twitter sentiment and adjust bids/ad copy based on what people are saying about your company.
  6. Run search ads for your event until a set number of people have confirmed they’re going to attend on Facebook.
  7. Monitor news feeds for product mentions and turn ads on when reviews appear.
  8. Set ads running automatically when a sponsored sports team wins/loses giving offers based on the score within the ad.
  9. Increase bids on ads for a taxi firm when mass transit reports severe delays.
  10. Set up a higher and lower button for your pet cat that ties into a spreadsheet. Let your cat set bids for you (*Not official TSA advice).

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AdWords has been feeding out a lot of new features recently. AdWords Scripts is the most exciting for account managers. This is a big play by Google that really sets AdWords apart from Bing Ads in terms of the democratization of automation. This also appears to be a fairly serious play, with the developers behind Google Apps Script driving this and also trying to build a community around this product. New features are also coming thick and fast; running scripts on an hourly basis having been announced earlier this month.

Until earlier this year there was a high barrier to entry for any advertiser looking to run any kind of automation. The only option would be to write a program that accesses the AdWords API. There have recently been delays of up to 2 months to get a developer token and quite a stringent set of requirements to meet. There was also always the risk that Google could cut you off if they decided that they didn’t like your application. This meant that only the larger advertisers and agencies were able to commit the significant development resources to tackle this.
AdWords Scripts is a huge game changer here.
Now anyone with a basic knowledge of JavaScript can put together small programs to help manage their account. This hugely lowers the bar for entry and allows even the hobbyist AdWords account manager to get their feet wet. It also allows more experienced AdWords account managers to try new ideas with much lower development costs and a much lower turnaround time.
There are some limitations to AdWords scripting. The most important to note is that there is no “undo” option. If you make a change through AdWords script and something goes wrong you will likely have to fix things manually, keyword-by-keyword, ad-by-ad.
The most obvious of these is that not all aspects of the API are available. Extensions are not yet configurable, although these are on the list to be worked on. This does come with a huge bonus on the side. There is almost seamless integration with the Spreadsheet and Mail APIs. There is also XML processing coming soon for handling things like merchant feeds.
Other limitations are:
Only being allowed to have 15 scripts per user account. This is likely to increase but in the meantime the recommendation is to have multiple accounts.
Only operating on a max of 100,000 entities – scripts that need to run on more data should run multiple times on different subsets of the account.
Scripts can only run for a maximum of 30 minutes – again, running on a subset should solve this although in most circumstances there are probably optimizations that can be made to the script to make it run faster.
As always, Google is pretty tight lipped about what might be coming for a product. XML processing is almost certainly coming. MCC level scripts have been a popular feature request, and I suspect alongside that there might be some consideration of permissions to allow managers to restrict users from running potentially harmful scripts.
As this is based on Apps Scripts there are going to be more Apps Scripts features creeping in. This has great potential for tying into the Tasks API for example and triggering campaigns to go live once somebody completes the task of uploading new content.
10 AdWords Scripting Ideas
Adjust bids according to the weather – AdWords actually provide a sample script for this in their tutorial.
Automatically create analytical reports in Google Docs.
Turn on elements of campaigns and adjust bids in response to stock levels. (At the moment the best option for doing this is with a Google Spreadsheet as an intermediate step. Native AdWords XML processing is coming soon.)
Adjust prices in ads without them having to go through approval using Ad Parameters.
Tap into a web service that tracks twitter sentiment and adjust bids/ad copy based on what people are saying about your company.
Run search ads for your event until a set number of people have confirmed they’re going to attend on Facebook.
Monitor news feeds for product mentions and turn ads on when reviews appear.
Set ads running automatically when a sponsored sports team wins/loses giving offers based on the score within the ad.
Increase bids on ads for a taxi firm when mass transit reports severe delays.
Set up a higher and lower button for your pet cat that ties into a spreadsheet. Let your cat set bids for you (*Not official TSA advice).
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[4] The Hidden Cost of Using Budget Limits: http://www.thesearchagents.com/2009/12/the-hidden-cost-of-using-budget-limits/

[5] Betting on the Weak Horse: http://www.thesearchagents.com/2010/08/betting-on-the-weak-horse/

[6] Microsoft adCenter Product Changes: http://www.thesearchagents.com/2011/07/microsoft-adcenter-product-changes/

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