Keeping Up With Walled Garden API Changes Requires Automation

digital looking API org chart graphic

By Eric Mayhew, Fluency, President

As if digital marketers don’t have enough on their plates, Google and Facebook are rolling out API changes at a dizzying pace that is unprecedented.  In the past year alone, Google pushed out four major version releases while Facebook put out eight.  Businesses have always been able to plan for a certain amount of these major releases each year, but recently the pace of walled gardens’ major API releases is quicker, and on top of that there are more and more ad hoc changes as well.

While the walled gardens often make digital marketers’ lives more complicated than many feel they should, in this instance, the seemingly all-too-frequent API changes actually help the walled gardens stay on the leading edge of user optimization and experience through constant innovation.  So what to do if you’re an auto or CPG marketer, among others, who may be strapped for platform resources?  Not keeping up with this newly frenetic pace of API changes is a non-starter.  Unless you want to disintermediate yourself from one of the cornerstones of digital advertising.

Many organizations have dealt with the specter of API changes by not dealing with them, that is, simply ignoring them; for businesses that focus on building their own technology, for instance, maintaining API parity doesn’t give them any competitive advantage, so why divert resources to it? As understandable as prioritizing business and revenue-critical work is, ignoring API changes—especially at their current volume—leads to a larger tech deficit quarter over quarter than ever before. A minor maintenance issue becomes a hard-to-tackle project—and a major risk for a business as a whole.

Another way these accelerated API releases may be impacting your business comes in the form of changes not always being communicated to technology teams. Developers are in the business of anticipating evolving API versions and variations, but ad hoc changes aren’t always broadcast to technology teams. In many instances, it requires developers to pay close attention to forums-–such as the Google Ads API and AdWords API forum—to see what’s coming down the pipeline.

In this day and age, having to pick between manually scouring forums or falling behind with API parity is an unacceptable choice. So whether your technology team is relentlessly caring and feeding these API changes, or you’re kicking the can further and further down the road, it’s time for a different approach: automation.

With version releases only becoming more frequent, even the most experienced in-house/agency teams will spend days implementing and testing each release—and the story isn’t over once you have migrated and tested. Monitoring is critical for confidence to ensure no issues have occurred from the initial testing.  While this seems daunting, it doesn’t necessarily mean your teams have to be  overwhelmed.  Automation will allow them to fulfill all responsibilities and still pursue the innovative passion projects that shape your company’s competitive advantages.

If it’s your company’s primary focus, keeping up with channel API releases isn’t difficult. The trouble with agencies building software dedicated to API maintenance, however, is that they’re not in the ad tech business. With this approach, the technology itself (something that’s otherwise more of a nice to have than a NEED to have) demands time, budget, and resources that should otherwise be put towards the primary business.

If you’ve wrestled with the “build or buy?” question, you’ll know that keeping up with partner API changes can be a very stressful and extremely time-consuming task for businesses. Platform solutions will help your brand and your agency to keep your finger on the pulse of all changes.

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.  But primarily, these partnerships will help your brand simplify the process of keeping up with accelerated API changes no matter what their cadence or scale is. The results? Besides the client-side benefits inherent with constant API parity, your team—no matter what its size—can use its mental and physical bandwidth on business drivers, customer relations, and other high-value, high-satisfaction efforts.