APIs and Mobile Marketing. A Strategy That Digital Marketers Must Adopt.
It has often been said that APIs is the next digital marketing platform and as Digital marketers are often looking for the wow factor an API could be an effective resource to achieve this outcome. There are many examples of organisations who have taken advantage of this opportunity and I would expect to see more practical uses of APIs by Digital Marketers in the near future as they look to evolve their content strategies and provide their target market more engaging ways to interact with their brand.
API stands for application programming interface and it serves as a platform for web applications to interact and share information with other applications. Marketers need to think of APIs as the opportunity to create new experiences for users, especially on mobile. APIs are used by many companies to build businesses and products on top of them, the most recognised being Twitter and Facebook. The value to the marketer is that they can focus on creating value-added functionality built around the data rather than building a platform to deliver a service.
When thinking of the role and API has within your digital strategy, the key decision is do you want to develop an API to provide third party developers access to data that could be leveraged for a fee or provide access free with the objective to push your content to a wider audience. A publisher opening up an API publicly can help spread content and make it easier to be found by consumers and USA Today is an example of an organisation who has taken this approach, with a strategy to make partnerships a key part of their business model an API has allowed then to share their content with new audiences.
It is not limited to organisations that have content to share, this also applies to data. A bank has access to transaction data, imagine all the application that could be developed if a bank opened access to this data through a partial response API, an App that crowd sourced offers from the transactions occurring in a certain location at a certain time could be developed as one example. The reality is that creating your own API is not as simple as building it and moving onto the next thing, you need resources to support the API, this includes documentation, sample codes, partner support and a roadmap for enhancements just to name a few.
The more common approach is to leverage an existing platform through an API to develop a unique feature to your target audience. The most popular API would be Google Maps, which enables mashups of any location-based data. Some other recent examples include some well promoted executions using LinkedIn such as Volkswagen LinkedOut App where you can compare how well linked you are to others in your LinkedIn network or Lead Incentive that allows consumers to match business that they like within to relevant members of their network. WhileWairport is another example that provides real time access to flight information on your mobile and allows you to share this with your contacts on Facebook and Twitter. If your flight is going to be late you can let your contacts know without the effort of phone calls and sms, it can also be used to meet people who are also waiting at the airport or arrange to share a taxi.
An API can provide your organisation with an opportunity to expand your digital content strategy. While I expect to see many more Apps in the near future that take advantage of APIs with the commitment to resources to continue to evolve and grow an API strategy this will mean the opportunities will be limited to only the innovative organisations.