How To Build Scalable PPC Tools

My Post (7).pngAs a PPC analyst, I have become more and more focused on tool development and reporting projects. However, as we continue to sign more clients, hire more Account Managers, and deal with more complex, large accounts, it becomes increasingly important to think about scalability with these projects.

Now you might be wondering, what exactly does “scalability” mean? In this case, our definition is “able to be used across a range of capabilities”. Specifically, the same tool should be able to be used for a small biz account, and an extra-large account with thousands of keywords.

So, What is an “Unscalable” Tool?

Many of our existing tools and templates rely on Google Sheets and a Supermetrics connector. While it’s great in theory, there are some problems.

  • Data refreshing – data accuracy and completeness are the lifeblood of any data analysis tool. Whatever method you choose to import data, you must be able to rely on it to function consistently. Manually downloading data from ad interfaces is an option, but is tedious and time-consuming, and can lead to many human errors.
  • Data size – Google sheets and Excel have limits on how much data they can hold and manipulate with ease. Referring to our earlier definition of scalability, we want to be able to use a tool with any sized account.
  • Time-Consuming – How much time the user has to actually spend using the tool is an important factor. The entire point of creating a tool is to either save time or provide an insight that would be difficult or impossible to find manually. For example, if we have a tool that runs SQRs (search query reports) but requires 10 steps, a manual data refresh, and some error troubleshooting from the user every time, that’s not scalable long term. Time is our most valuable resource, let’s use it wisely!
  • Robustness – A tool that is constantly breaking (either due to human error or computer error), makes an analyst sad. The very nature of Google Sheets & Excel makes it very easy for the end-user to make changes (unintentionally or not) and cause things to break.

Project Planning for Success

To build scalable solutions, we must start at the very beginning: the planning stage.

Some things to think about during the planning stage that will impact scalability include the following:

How is the PPC tool going to be built?

Your go-to may be Excel or Sheets, but with the limitations discussed previously, now might be the time to start learning (or implementing) some code! Whether it’s PythonRjavascript, or some other code of your choice, it might just be a stable solution.

Another often-overlooked, yet very important aspect is how the tool works with multiple users. Our Google Sheets tools are copied for each instance that the user needs it (for each client, for example). The problem here is that we end up with old outdated versions floating out there in the ether that is Google Drive. Account Managers end up using broken copies inadvertently. When a tool is coded and hosted online, updates are pushed live and there’s no chance of a user having an old copy. – Read more