Taboola to Redshift

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Taboola and load it into Redshift. (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 Taboola?

Taboola calls itself a "discovery platform" or a "reverse search engine." It delivers personalized content recommendations to more than a billion users who visit many of the web's most popular websites every month. You've probably seen Taboola content yourself – a block of images and headlines labeled "Sponsored Links by Taboola." The links are designed to increase user engagement with the sites on which they appear.

Getting data out of Taboola

Developers can pull data out of Taboola's servers using its Backstage API. For instance, you could fetch information about a campaign by calling GET /backstage/api/1.0/[account-id]/campaigns/[campaign-id]/items/.

Sample Taboola data

The response from Taboola's Backstage API comes in JSON format, and might look like this:

{
  "results":[
      {
      "id": "1",
      "campaign_id": "124",
      "type": "ITEM",
      "url": "http://news.example.com/article.htm",
      "thumbnail_url": "http://cdn.example.com/image.jpg",
      "title": "Demo Article",
      "approval_state": "APPROVED",
      "is_active": true,
      "status": "RUNNING"
    }
    ]
  }

Loading data into Redshift

Once you've identified the columns you want to insert, you can use the Redshift CREATE TABLE statement to set up a table to receive all of the data.

To populate that table, you might be tempted to use INSERT statements to add data to your Redshift table row by row. Don't do that; Redshift isn't optimized for inserting data one row at a time. If you have a high volume of data to be inserted, a better approach is to load the data into Amazon S3 and use the COPY command to migrate it into Redshift.

Keeping Taboola 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 Taboola.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Taboola modifies its API, or 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

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

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 solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Taboola data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Redshift data warehouse.