By Eric Mayhew, Fluency, President
Recently, in these pages, I made the argument for how brands can keep up with the rapidly increasing pace of API updates of Walled Garden platforms like Facebook and Google. In my summation, I urged companies to “partner with a platform that offers bi-directional API access, which will also deliver additional benefits such as scoping, planning and management of customer data throughout its lifecycle.”
In this piece, I would like to dig deeper into the strategic and operational benefits of embracing feature-rich API platforms that support “read and write” operations. At its core, an API is a framework to optimize client-platform collaboration, creating greater efficiency and results. This collaborative element is critical. When you kick the tires on the range of API-enabled products currently in the marketplace, you’ll find that many of them only allow you to read from them but not write into them. A Bi-Directional API gives you the power to do both, which in turn empowers your brand to control most—if not all—aspects of the underlying functional behavior.
Therefore, as part of your due diligence with potential platform partners to craft and implement an API-based advertising strategy, make sure you hone in on a partner that facilitates your team’s maintenance of proprietary data access and ownership. This ensures your data informs the decisions of the product with which you integrate. In doing so, you’ll save time and money and optimize your competitive advantage by taking full advantage of what bi-directional APIs have to offer.
What to look for in a feature-rich API
A well-engineered, flexible and easy-to-integrate API will help your teams avoid mistakes and save time. Fundamentally, an API is simply a software connection between applications that takes place at a programmatic level—such as the interactions between an e-commerce store and PayPal. One of the advantages of an API that supports bi-directional exchange versus a read-only API is that it improves connectivity between data and systems so information is actionable and never siloed.
Well engineered APIs unlock massive scale for all advertisers, while ensuring their engineering teams retain control over critical parts of the process. This flexibility may be one of the biggest benefits of all—just ask your closest engineer. Furthermore, for organizations that have enterprise-scaled needs or need to get data that isn’t accessible through the user interface, they can do that programmatically with APIs. Looking at your business demands will determine whether read-only APIs will suffice or whether you will need to manage and control behaviors that can only be supported by APIs that support intake.
Enhanced Workflow Coupled with Opportunities to Innovate
The best API solution is one that supports bi-directionality, reduces complexity by offering a stable, versioned API that sits in front of—and normalizes—the seemingly infinite number of channel partner APIs that will greatly simplify your internal architecture. Your business will want to leverage APIs to reduce labor in the long run. Exchanging manual work for continual developer API upkeep is just trading one person’s set of hours for another’s, so finding that stable and simple singular API for advertising can be a massive benefit.
As your organization grows, manual efforts are unsustainable to scale, a problem which virtually mandates programmatic automation (integration with APIs). Leveraging well-engineered APIs for all the same things you can do manually can reduce labor demands to zero or near zero time.
Whether you’re struggling to keep up with the accelerated volume of API changes that I referenced earlier or weighing whether you should build or buy, know that API solutions exist that meet your full business demands, offer the best of all worlds, including flexible reporting and management, unlimited access and external platform data engagement.
In advertising, enabling feature-rich API functionality allows customers to automatically update hundreds or thousands of ad accounts based on their business data. This ensures clients scalability at lower labor costs while still feeling like they can provide a unique experience to their clients.
This plays out across a broad range of brand verticals. For example, in real estate, agencies who manage advertising for hundreds or thousands of rental properties often have millions of images to use in their advertising. Oftentimes these images are stored in a proprietary Digital Asset Management tool (Like Adobe Experience Manager). Rather than creating copies or moving images from a Digital Asset Management tool to an advertising platform of record, a best-of-class API that provides bi-directionality allows customers to use images in their current location within their existing Digital Asset Manager. Using an API to reference data in-place reduces complexity, data duplication and streamlines business process flow.
Your entire organization will thank you.