Last week I covered several APIs that search marketers should consider to help make SEO more efficient. This week I'll share the APIs that you should consider checking out on the PPC side. Like the SEO version, these APIs can make managing PPC much more efficient -- and open up new opportunities based on those efficiencies.
Google AdWords API
The granddaddy of all PPC APIs is by far the Google AdWords API. Because the API has been around for many years now, it's fairly well-developed. Ironically, while Google appears to have tried to educate search marketers about the API through its training and testing for the Google AdWords Partner Program, many search marketers, in my opinion, still know little about the API, its features and its potential for creating great internal management efficiencies.
The Google AdWords API provides you with the ability to update and make changes to a Google AdWords account without actually entering the AdWords interface, allowing you to create your own applications and update AdWords accounts as needed through your application. The API is especially helpful when uploading or changing bulk information, such as in the case of ecommerce. For example, I have a client with over 75,000 SKUs, which go in and out of stock over time. The Google AdWords API allows me to dynamically pause ads when items go out of stock and start the ads again when the item returns to inventory. As you can imagine, doing this manually every day for over 75,000 products would be impossible - which is why the API is so valuable.
To get started, you'll need a My Client Center (MCC) account. Then click on the My Account tab and API Center to begin the process to receive a developer token. This token is required for all API calls.
The Google AdWords API, however, does come at a cost. For each call you make to the Google servers, there are varying rates of cost. In time, though, you can apply to have your API fees waived through the Preferred Pricing Program.
Google Analytics API and Google Website Optimizer
The Google Analytics API can also be very helpful for reporting and analysis, but the Analytics API also contains API calls for Google Website Optimizer, a popular landing page testing tool. The Google Website Optimizer API will allow you to create, modify and monitor your GWO experiments without having to log in to GWO to view them. As I mentioned in my piece about SEO-related APIs, this can help make management teams more efficient by including GWO experiments into a dashboard setting or automatically pulling this data from GWO for reporting purposes. Unlike the AdWords API, there is no cost for the Analytics API calls.
Microsoft adCenter API
The Microsoft adCenter API, like the Google AdWords API, allows you to interface with the Microsoft adCenter platform without having to log in and work within the platform itself. As with the Google example I gave previously for an ecommerce firm, one of the adCenter API's greatest assets is the ability to add or modify information in bulk much more quickly than could be done manually.
The process to work with the Microsoft adCenter API, however, isn't as smooth as with the Google AdWords API. Microsoft currently is much more limiting with access to its API than Google. You must be invited by Microsoft to take part in its API program --- which, in my opinion, really limits Microsoft in the long run. No matter what the application, API access in general provides extended access to the application, allowing more people to use it in multiple ways. By limiting API access, companies limit the potential users, and in Microsoft's case, possibly limit revenue. Eventually, I expect Microsoft will open this API to more search marketers as it matures and becomes more stable.