APIs as a marketing channel

Andreas Krohn is an API specialist at Dopter.se and blogs about APIs and API news at mashup.se. The article is taken from our forthcoming publication about how we can build media and content on data and creations that already exist. Read about what an API is here.

Do you have a Twitter app on your iPhone? If so you are using Twitter’s API. Do you check the weather on the website of the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan? If so, you use the Norwegian weather service API that Vackert Väder is built upon. Do you use your Facebook user name to log in to any websites? That means that you are using Facebook’s API. APIs are everywhere and today it is almost as important for companies active on the internet to have an API as it is to have a website.

API as a marketing channel

Last year Ethan Beard from Facebook said that “Spotify is Facebook music”. What he meant was that Spotify is so integrated into Facebook’s own platform that Facebook does not need to develop their own music service. This integration is built with the Facebook API. The recent updates from Facebook that enable people to play Spotify music from inside Facebook and see what their friends are listening to in realtime shows that these were not just empty words. When Spotify first began using Facebook’s APIs, traffic quadrupled and a similar surge in traffic for Spotify is quite likely with the new deeper Facebook integration.

Spotify does not only use APIs; it also has its own API that developers can build on. It is used in many interesting music services, for example to help music lovers to discover new music. A very creative service is Automatic DJ, which plays music you enjoy when you get in front of a webcam. The music comes from Spotify’s streaming API; you are identified via the face recognition API from face.com and the music recommendations come from Hunch via their API.

Naturally all this innovation drives traffic to Spotify. Furthermore they are building the Spotify brand as the de facto music service. The API is a perfect (and relatively inexpensive) marketing channel for them.

Suddenly Spotify can be seen in places where they never would have been seen otherwise and with all this publicity, more and more people are becoming interested in Spotify and paying for its premium services.

Take advantage of the ecosystem

There are two ways to take advantage of the amazing ecosystem of APIs currently available: either by publishing an API or by using one of the many available APIs. By publishing an API you can take advantage of all the innovation that developers have to offer, you can build your brand and, if you charge for your API, earn more money. By using APIs you can quickly create something that just a few years ago would have required a small army of programmers.

Still not convinced that APIs are for you? The next time you see a map somewhere online, remember that the map probably comes from the Google Maps API. The world is full of APIs and now is the time to take advantage of it.

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