Excel Macros – The Unsung Hero Of PPC

By , Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing


Show me a PPC professional, and I’ll show you an avid Excel user (most of the time).


We tend to be wizards at formula writing, concatenating, and calculating cell length. Templates are pretty easy to set up (utilize formulas and simply dump in the data when you’re ready), but this process can get a bit messy depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.


Enter the Macro. While they can take a bit more time writing and setting up, many times you’ll end up with a cleaner end product. In this post, we’ll discuss what a macro is, why you’d want to use one, pros and cons, and how to get started with writing Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The example we’ll use is a macro that takes a list of modifiers and categories and builds out campaigns automatically.


What Is A Macro?


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Simply put, a macro will automatically run through certain tasks that you tell it to.


On the Developer tab in Excel, there is a category for Visual Basic. Here you’ll find the following buttons:


Editor – to edit VBA code
Macros – to view/run a list of macros in the workbook
Record – to record a set of actions as a macro


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Why Macros?


Templates are great as they work well for so many PPC related tasks. However, with more complicated tasks, things can get a bit messy.


Let’s take the keyword builder tool for example (built by this guy).


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Yikes. If one formula gets botched, you’re in trouble. In our new Macro version of the tool, we input all of the variables once, click a button, and the macro does the rest.


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Here is our end result.


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Nice, clean, and ready for Editor upload. The macro runs through your list of modifiers and categories and concatenates them to create keywords, and concatenates sub-category with match type for ad group names.


The Pros And Cons For Macros




  • Much cleaner
  • No formulas to mess with
  • Run Fast (mostly)
  • Can execute complicated actions like loops




  • Takes time to write
  • Need to learn VBA if you aren’t already familiar
  • Can crash Excel (I’m looking at you, accidental infinite loop)


Learning VBA And Writing Your First Macro


This post has barely scratched the surface of VBA. However, there is an abundance of VBA tutorials online. WiseOwlTutorials has a great YouTube series on VBA. You can also reference Microsoft’s support materials.


I highly recommend watching a few videos to get you started. Once you get more comfortable, you can start piecing together bits of code to accomplish the task you’ve set out to complete. If you do get stuck, something I’ve found helpful is to record a quick macro, then look at the code to see how it’s structured. Do note that when you use the Record feature, Excel will oftentimes add in little bits of code that aren’t completely necessary.


Closing Thoughts


Excel Macros have the ability to speed up your workflow substantially if you’re willing to put in the time upfront to create them. Consider creating them for any tedious tasks that you find yourself doing day after day.

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4 thoughts on “Excel Macros – The Unsung Hero Of PPC

  1. Nicki Martinez

    Does it generate exact keywords in all their varaitions automatically? For example if the keywords were: “white shoe” would it give you “white shoe” and “shoe white”?

    1. Rachael LawRachael Law

      As it is right now, it does not. However, there are two buttons to execute the macro: one to create keywords with the modifier first, and one that lists the category first. In the situation you described above, you’d simply run the macro twice, copying the keywords from the “Exact” worksheet.


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