AdWords API – Do I Need It?

A reader asks:  Is it worth learning Google API or does the editor and online tools cover all the things you need?

My answer: It depends what you need. Unless you’re a software developer, you don’t really need the API. The Google desktop editor does most things you’d want, and you have the report center for the rest.

The API – which is the technical term for "a wormhole in time and space that allows cybergeniuses unfathomable access to the bowels of a big database" – can help programmers create custom interfaces that allow the data to become more useful, intuitive, and shareable.

A couple of years ago, I – and by this I mean "people other than me with whom I collaborate who can actually write software" – wrote a piece of software that used the AdWords API to automate split testing of ads. It was a fantastic idea. In those days, API access was free and extensive.

Shortly after we released the software, to much fanfare of our own making, Google started charging for API access. We calculated that our $20/month program would cost the average use $10k/month in Google API charges. Clearly not worth it.

Shortly after we did that math, Google did us a favor by crippling API access to most of the data we needed. So it was back to the drawing board for another year.

The happy ending: we’ve (again, I mean "they’ve") re-introduced the split testing tool in another format – as an automated reader of the free report you can create in the Reports section. So now actually works (and works very well, our customers tell us).* But not via the AdWords API.

So there’s a long answer to a short question. That’s what happens when you hit a nerve. I’m better now. Really. (Sniff.)

*Try it free for 14 days at

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