Microsoft Advertising to Azure SQL Data Warehouse

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Microsoft Advertising and load it into Azure SQL Data Warehouse. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising — formerly Bing Ads — is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform used to display ads based on the keywords that appear in Bing users' search queries.

What is Azure SQL Data Warehouse?

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a cloud-based petabyte-scale columnar database service with controls to manage compute and storage resources independently. It offers encryption of data at rest and dynamic data masking to mask sensitive data on the fly, and it integrates with Azure Active Directory. It can replicate to read-only databases in different geographic regions for load balancing and fault tolerance.

Getting data out of Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft makes Advertising data available through a Microsoft Advertising API, which offers data on things like ad insights, estimated bids, estimated positions, and many other kinds of data. Because it’s a SOAP API, scripts must call data objects by making SOAP request messages.

For example, to get data about bid opportunities, you could use the Microsoft Advertising API GetBidOpportunities service. The service’s syntax includes four header elements and three body elements, two of which are optional. Once you decided exactly what information you wanted, you could code a SOAP request that might look like this:


<s:Envelope xmlns:i="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <s:Header xmlns="Microsoft.Advertiser.AdInsight.Api.Service.V11">
    <Action mustUnderstand="1">GetBidOpportunities</Action>
    <ApplicationToken i:nil="false">ValueHere</ApplicationToken>
    <AuthenticationToken i:nil="false">ValueHere</AuthenticationToken>
    <CustomerAccountId i:nil="false">ValueHere</CustomerAccountId>
    <CustomerId i:nil="false">ValueHere</CustomerId>
    <DeveloperToken i:nil="false">ValueHere</DeveloperToken>
    <Password i:nil="false">ValueHere</Password>
    <UserName i:nil="false">ValueHere</UserName>
  </s:Header>
  <s:Body>
    <GetBidOpportunitiesRequest xmlns="Microsoft.Advertiser.AdInsight.Api.Service.V11">
      <AdGroupId i:nil="false">ValueHere</AdGroupId>
      <CampaignId i:nil="false">ValueHere</CampaignId>
      <OpportunityType>ValueHere</OpportunityType>
    </GetBidOpportunitiesRequest>
  </s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

Sample Microsoft Advertising data

The Microsoft Advertising API returns XML objects. In response to a bid opportunities request, for example, the service would provide a SOAP response that might look like this:

<s:Envelope xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <s:Header xmlns="Microsoft.Advertiser.AdInsight.Api.Service.V11">
    <TrackingId d3p1:nil="false" xmlns:d3p1="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">ValueHere</TrackingId>
  </s:Header>
  <s:Body>
    <GetBidOpportunitiesResponse xmlns="Microsoft.Advertiser.AdInsight.Api.Service.V11">
      <Opportunities xmlns:e63="http://schemas.datacontract.org/2004/07/Microsoft.BingAds.Advertiser.AdInsight.Api.DataContract.V11.Entity" d4p1:nil="false" xmlns:d4p1="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <e63:BidOpportunity>
          <e63:AdGroupId>ValueHere</e63:AdGroupId>
          <e63:CampaignId>ValueHere</e63:CampaignId>
          <e63:CurrentBid>ValueHere</e63:CurrentBid>
          <e63:EstimatedIncreaseInClicks>ValueHere</e63:EstimatedIncreaseInClicks>
          <e63:EstimatedIncreaseInCost>ValueHere</e63:EstimatedIncreaseInCost>
          <e63:EstimatedIncreaseInImpressions>ValueHere</e63:EstimatedIncreaseInImpressions>
          <e63:KeywordId>ValueHere</e63:KeywordId>
          <e63:MatchType d4p1:nil="false">ValueHere</e63:MatchType>
          <e63:SuggestedBid>ValueHere</e63:SuggestedBid>
        </e63:BidOpportunity>
      </Opportunities>
    </GetBidOpportunitiesResponse>
  </s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

Preparing Microsoft Advertising data

If you don’t already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you’ll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you’ll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them. The source API documentation should tell you what fields are provided by each endpoint, along with their corresponding datatypes.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. This means you’ll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Loading data into Azure SQL Data Warehouse

SQL Data Warehouse provides a multi-step process for loading data. After extracting the data from its source, you can move it to Azure Blob storage or Azure Data Lake Store. You can then use one of three utilities to load the data:

  • AZCopy uses the public internet.
  • Azure ExpressRoute routes the data through a dedicated private connection to Azure, bypassing the public internet by using a VPN or point-to-point Ethernet network.
  • The Azure Data Factory (ADF) cloud service has a gateway that you can install on your local server, then use to create a pipeline to move data to Azure Storage.

From Azure Storage you can load the data into SQL Data Warehouse staging tables by using Microsoft's PolyBase technology. You can run any transformations you need while the data is in staging, then insert it into production tables. Microsoft offers documentation for the whole process.

Keeping Microsoft Advertising data up to date

At this point you’ve coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Microsoft Advertising.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Microsoft modifies the Microsoft Advertising API, or if the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, Snowflake, or Panoply, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, and To S3.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from Microsoft Advertising to Azure SQL Data Warehouse automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Microsoft Advertising data via the API, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Azure SQL Data Warehouse data warehouse.