Making it rain: real time bid adjustments in Adwords using local weather conditions

Paid Search

AdWords provides many powerful tools to adapt our bids to local conditions: hour and time of day bidding, campaign scheduling, location targeting and other more sophisticated methods have become standard practice, particularly when advertising for clients with substantial real-world presence.

But these tools are limited to historical data. What about reacting to real time trends, or even forecasts? By using some AdWords script features, and some free APIs, we can!

We have a client who performs repair services for restaurants. In discussions with them about seasonal trends, we found out that their peak periods were correlated with extreme weather.

Hot days, and other extreme weather caused spikes in leads. Why? Because bad weather makes the devices they repair break down!

If we could target these periods as they happen, or better yet, forecast their approach, we could outbid the competition at the most profitable times.

Lucky for us, Google has offered weather tracking as a feature of its Scripts since 2014. They’ve even thoughtfully provided a couple of example scripts. We used the standard one for bid changes in this example.

What the script does is take data from a weather API (In this case the Open Weather API, which offers a free account that will work for most small or medium-sized AdWords Accounts) and determines if the AdWords geo-targets have weather matching the conditions specified.

We first find weather station geocodes targeting the areas we want to target. These geocodes act as coordinates, if they lie within a targeted location or a radius in Adwords, Google will match the weather data to the targeting campaign.

 

Then we add a series of conditions we want to trigger the bid adjustments, and specify the weather data conditions that match this. These are based on three properties, temperature, precipitation, and wind speed (Unfortunately AdWords only supports imperial units, so double check your data unless you want to be selling swimwear at -1C instead of 30C.)

 

Finally we bring it all together, matching the campaigns to the geocodes and weather, and adding a bid adjustment. Now whenever we get hot weather, we can make sure we’re outbidding our competitors!

 

 

There are many more ways to use this and other great AdWords features, and here at Metric Labs we’re always looking for that extra edge! Google also provides a more advanced version of this script, which is more difficult to get up and running, but offers more powerful features like weekly forecasting, more weather options such as cloud cover, and the ability to pause or alter ad groups and  campaigns based on the data. For example, you could un-pause the keyword “Roof Leak Repair” only when it was scheduled to rain 3 days in a row.