One thing that’s constant in PPC is change. To thrive in this industry, you have to be flexible and ready to adapt. But if it seems like right now there’s even more change than typical, it’s not just your imagination. One of the reasons is that Google is sunsetting the AdWords API on April 27, 2022 and after that date, all calls to the API will fail.
There are many questions I’ve heard related to this announcement and I’ll answer them in this post.
Can I still use a 3rd party PPC tool?
Yes, 3rd party PPC management tools will continue to exist. Google is merely transitioning from one API to another. Everything you could automate before will still be possible to automate with the new API.
Google is not killing off 3rd party ad management tools. In April 2021, Google released version 7 of their new Ads API which had all the same capabilities as the old AdWords API. At that time, they announced the old API would stop functioning in 2022. But any developer who is willing to make the effort to rewrite their code can continue to offer their software to advertisers. Optmyzr is on track for the transition and will continue to support advertisers with great PPC tools.
Why do advertisers have to use a new Ads API?
Google normally updates its API for advertisers 3 times per year. Each new version adds some new capabilities to bring it on par with what advertisers have access to when they log into the Google Ads website. New versions may also deprecate features that have been removed from the ads system. And there are always some housekeeping changes, like capabilities that get renamed to be more consistent with other parts of the API.
To make it possible for developers to migrate to the latest version of the API without breaking their tools for existing users, Google keeps several versions of their API available at any given time. However, they announce sunset dates for versions that are more than 2 cycles old. So when they go from version 8 to version 9, they announce the date when version 7 will stop working.
To keep up with this constant change, Optmyzr makes significant investments in its PPC tools every year. While we’re always building new features to make advertisers more successful, we also spend a lot of time updating existing tools so that they keep working even when Google makes changes behind the scenes in their API. Recently we’ve also started investing more in improving our user experience with new, more modern designs. We are planning even bigger investments in all these areas for 2022 to make our users happier.
What’s different about going from the AdWords API to the Ads API?
Changing from the AdWords API to the Ads API is a much more significant project and one we’ve been busy working on for many months. Our customers won’t notice any difference, but some of our tools already use the new API while others are waiting their turn to be migrated by our engineering team. A good tool like Optmyzr just keeps working even when there are big changes behind the scenes in terms of how we fetch data and how we make changes to an advertiser’s account when they apply changes to their account.
The level of effort in migrating to the Ads API is significant enough that some tools, like Wordstream, and some agencies with their own software, are changing their business models so they will no longer build tools for the Ads API.
Should advertisers build their own tools?
Some advertisers who are able to build tools using the API may still decide to use third party tools like Optmyzr so they don’t have to constantly spend money to keep things working. It’s one thing to build a cool new in-house PPC tool, but it’s quite another to have to spend a lot of time to keep it working with each new API version.
Optmyzr’s core business is PPC software so we can invest in the constant updates needed to keep things working with the latest APIs from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo because it’s an investment that benefits advertisers who spend a combined $4 billion per year on PPC. Individual advertisers on the other hand may not be able to afford the level of engineering resources required to manage this level of change when it benefits just their own business which spends far less than $4 billion per year on ads.
Why is Wordstream shutting down?
Another piece of news that’s making the rounds in the PPC world is that Wordstream is shutting down its Advisor software and asking existing customers to sign up for agency services. The timing of this may be somewhat related to the news about the Google Ads API.
As a complete outsider to Wordstream, let me share what I suspect happened. Wordstream was acquired by Gannett, a large media conglomerate, in 2018. Gannett made several acquisitions in the digital marketing space around that time.
After the acquisition, the pace of change in the Wordstream software slowed. The timing of this acquisition was fortunate for Gannett because Google temporarily halted their API sunset schedule. The reason is that they had just introduced the Ads API as a replacement for the AdWords API but the new API had significant performance issues. Since the new Ads API wasn’t working well, they couldn’t sunset the old AdWords API and so for almost 3 years, while Google was working on making the new Ads API better, developers could keep their software running with only very minimal investments in API updates. Wordstream was able to continue existing, even when Gannett wasn’t investing much in their technology.
Now that the AdWords API is shutting down, some companies may decide to scrap their tools and go in a different direction. For Gannett, it appears that they are prioritizing managed agency services over self-service software. And that means the end of Wordstream.
What are alternatives for Wordstream?
Optmyzr is one of many great alternatives for advertisers who want to manage their own PPC accounts with software. Over the years, we’ve had many Wordstream users successfully transition to Optmyzr.
If you loved their 20-minute workweek, you might enjoy Optmyzr Express which helps you quickly fix the biggest issues and capitalize on the biggest opportunities in your Google Ads or Microsoft Ads account.
If you liked their account audit and performance grader, you might enjoy Optmyzr’s PPC Policy and Audits which helps ensure your account is following best practices like how your account is structured, what types of ads and extensions you’re using, and much more.
Wordstream clients always ask if we have an alternative to Query Stream (we have the powerful Keyword Lasso), and if we have reporting where delivery to clients can be automated (we do, with a backup in case certain metric thresholds aren’t met).
Some of the other capabilities we offer include multi-platform budget controls to create budget groups that includes changing and pausing budgets in Facebook Ads; optimization, reporting and alerts for platforms like Amazon Ads; and metric and budget alerts for Facebook Ads (plus reporting)
Another key benefit of Optmyzr is that it’s more customizable than Wordstream. We’ll start you off quickly with a set of recommendations based on industry best practices but as you develop your own expertise, you can tweak any tool so that it recommends more of the things you like. And when you’re ready, you can even start to fully automate many of these optimizations.
What are alternatives to building in-house PPC tools?
If your agency is losing some PPC tools when the AdWords API sunsets in April 2022, first consider some of the many great tools built by 3rd parties like Optmyzr. Many of the PPC problems your tools were trying to solve are probably not unique to just your agency.
When you shop for a tool, be sure to ask how much it can be customized so that you can still add your own secret sauce to it. For example, at Optmyzr, we have a PPC rule builder which lets advertisers build and automate sophisticated strategies that are completely custom to your own operations. The tool can even bring in your own first-party data, something increasingly more important as privacy regulations make it harder to rely on 3rd party targeting signals.
Also ask whether the company you’re considering working with is able to customize things for your needs. At Optmyzr we have a custom PPC solutions team that works with top advertisers to do some really cool PPC projects. When we bring together smart advertisers with our team that knows Google Ads really well, we can do some unique things to give advertisers an edge in an ever-more competitive PPC market.