This post will help you with syncing your DoubleClick (Ad Manager) advertising data to Snowflake. By doing this you will be able to perform advanced analytics on a system that is designed for this kind of data payloads, like Snowflake. Alternatively, you can simplify the process of syncing data from DoubleClick to Snowflake by using Blendo, where the whole process will be handled by Blendo and you can focus on the in-depth analysis of your data in order to come up with alternative ways to bring more efficient ads.
About Doubleclick (Ad Manager)
DoubleClick for publishers is a platform initially designed to facilitate the process of delivering ads to websites or mobile devices. As per June 2018, DoubleClick for Publishers was merged with DoubleClick Ad Exchange into Ad Manager, a new online advertisement service brand introduced by Google.
While using DoubleClick you can define ad units, i.e. the spaces within your website or app where your ads will be shown. Without any further actions, DoubleClick can then determine the best possible placement per ad request and record data relevant to this specific ad campaign. You can also produce various custom reports on the properties that you have selected to expose in order to gain insights on the performance of your ads as well as to determine any possible improvements.
Access your data on DoubleClick (Ad Manager)
The first step in loading your DoubleClick data to any kind of data warehouse solution, is to access your data and start extracting it.
For accessing your data you can use the Ad Manager API which is implemented using the SOAP protocol and consequently this will add some complexity to your development as you will have to manage SOAP and XML responses. However, to help you get started Google offers client libraries for Java, .NET, Python, PHP and Ruby that offer wrapper functions and various features.
In addition to the above, the things that you have to keep in mind when dealing with the Ad Manager API, are:
- Rate limits. Depending on the chosen plan and API version that is being used, Ad Manager API allows an amount of calls per hour.
- Authentication. You authenticate all Ad Manager API requests using OAuth2.
- Error Handling. Make sure that you handle errors correctly
Each custom report is composed of the following:
- Dimensions. The user can select a number of dimensions for the report.
- Dimension Attributes. Specific dimensions can optionally be enhanced with some attributes. There are constraints on what attributes can be selected, depending on the dimensions that the user has chosen.
- Columns. Can be considered as metrics that provide all the trafficking statistics and revenue information available for the chosen dimension object. There are constraints of what columns can be combined with what dimensions.
Transform and prepare your DoubleClick (Ad Manager) Data for Snowflake
After you have accessed your data on DoubleClick (Ad Manager), you will have to transform it based on two main factors,
- The limitations of the database that the data will be loaded onto
- The type of analysis that you plan to perform
Each system has specific limitations on the data types and data structures that it supports. If for example you want to push data into Google BigQuery, then you can send nested data like JSON directly, but keep in mind that in the case of a SOAP API like DoubleClick, you get XML responses.
Of course, when you are dealing with tabular data stores, like Microsoft SQL Server, this is not an option. Instead, you will have to flatten out your data, just as in the case of JSON, before loading into the database.
Also, you have to choose the right data types. Again, depending on the system that you will send the data to and the data types that the API exposes to you, you will have to make the right choices. These choices are important because they can limit the expressivity of your queries and limit your analysts on what they can do directly out of the database.
With DoubleClick data, you have two main additional sources of complexity. When it comes to data types you have to keep in mind that SOAP is using XML to describe the service and the data, so the data types that you have to map are coming from XML and might have automatically be transformed into the primitive data types of the language that you are using.
Also, you have to consider that the reports you’ll get from DoubleClick are like CSV files in terms of their structure and you need to somehow identify what and how to map to a table into your database. This way you will be able to join, combine and query your data in order to assess the performance of various ads and finally improve ROI for display ad campaigns.
Data in Snowflake is organized around tables with a well-defined set of columns with each one having a specific data type.
Snowflake supports a rich set of data types. It is worth mentioning that a number of semi-structured data types is also supported. With Snowflake, is possible to load directly data in JSON, Avro, ORC, Parquet, or XML format. Hierarchical data is treated as a first-class citizen, similar to what Google BigQuery offers.
There is also one notable common data type that is not supported by Snowflake. LOB or large object data type is not supported, instead, you should use a BINARY or VARCHAR type instead. But these types are not that useful for data warehouse use cases.
A typical strategy for loading data from DoubleClick to Snowflake is to create a schema where you will map each API endpoint to a table.
Each key inside the DoubleClick API endpoint response should be mapped to a column of that table and you should ensure the right conversion to a Snowflake data type.
Of course, you will need to ensure that as the data types from the DoubleClick API might change, you will adapt your database tables accordingly, there’s no such thing as automatic data type casting.
After you have a complete and well-defined data model or schema for Snowflake, you can move forward and start loading your data into the database.
Load data from DoubleClick (Ad Manager) to Snowflake
Usually, data is loaded into Snowflake in a bulk way, using the COPY INTO command. Files containing the data, usually in JSON format, are stored in a local file system or in Amazon S3 buckets. Then a COPY INTO command is invoked on the Snowflake instance and data is copied into the data warehouse.
The files can be pushed into Snowflake using the PUT command, into a staging environment before the COPY command is invoked.
Another alternative is to upload the data directly into a service like Amazon S3 from where Snowflake can access the data directly.
Updating your DoubleClick (Ad Manager) data on Snowflake
As you will be generating more data on DoubleClick (Ad Manager), you will need to update your older data on Snowflake. This includes new records together with updates to older records that for any reason have been updated on DoubleClick.
You will need to periodically check DoubleClick for new data and repeat the process that has been described previously while updating your currently available data if needed. Updating an already existing row on a Snowflake table is achieved by creating UPDATE statements.
Another issue that you need to take care of is the identification and removal of any duplicate records on your database. Either because DoubleClick does not have a mechanism to identify new and updated records or because of errors on your data pipelines, duplicate records might be introduced to your database.
In general, ensuring the quality of the data that is inserted into your database is a big and difficult issue.
The best way to load data from DoubleClick (Ad Manager) to Snowflake
So far we just scraped the surface of what can be done with Snowflake and how to load data into it. The way to proceed relies heavily on the data you want to load, from which service they are coming from and the requirements of your use case.
Things can get even more complicated if you want to integrate data coming from different sources. A possible alternative, instead of writing, hosting and maintaining a flexible data infrastructure, is to use a product like Blendo that can handle this kind of problems automatically for you.
Blendo integrates with multiple sources or services like databases, CRM, email campaigns, analytics and more. Quickly and safely move all your data from DoubleClick (Ad Manager) to Snowflake and start generating insights from your data.
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