Friday, October 25, 2013

Every Brand- Even Yours- Needs an Open API

By Kaylee Pohlmeyer

As a marketer, it is important to have strategies that will scale your business with minimal investment. As a graduate student in Medill’s Integrated Marketing Communications program, I have had the opportunity to see many open API platforms, and I am going to share with you thoughts from two leaders in the industry as to why an open API is essential for scaling your business through innovation.

In the article “Why Every Brand Needs an Open API for Developers,” Adam Kleinberg suggests that you can establish a value platform for your brand by creating an API that allows your assets (data that is of value to others) to be accessed and used by anyone. Why? So you can let other developers innovate and create for you. An API is a way for an established brand to think like a start-up. Look at Netflix, who opened up their data, and now their interface can be accessed on hundreds of devices. Allow your content to be where your consumers are, as depicted in the graphic below from Apigee:



I was lucky enough to interview John Bernier, Senior Manager of Marketing and Developer Engagement at Best Buy, who has played an essential role in one of the first, and most successful API’s- BBYOpen. Bernier believes that APIs are the future of open data, and Best Buy’s API has allowed them to surround customers and their shopping experience with data that is relevant and timely.  The biggest advantage of their open API is that it has allowed them to scale in a way that was never before possible. Although Best Buy has monetized their API through partnerships and endless e-commerce platforms, that was not the key business objective upon launch. Bernier remarks:

            “Developers can create really interesting applications and ideas using your data and profitability will follow; the API is the fuel behind it.”

So you may be thinking, my brand doesn’t need an API, we already have a mobile app- but that is where you are wrong. APIs, not apps, are the future of digital and mobile marketing and you need to establish your brand in this space before your competitors do.

Here are three things you need to do right now to help establish a winning API strategy:
  • Identify your business assets- information, products or services- that are of value to others
  • Start out small- let your API evolve on its own
  • Do not focus on monetization- that will come with time

There are 50 new APIs every week, adding to the 10,000+ companies that have opened up their data to the public. Your API and the developers that use it will take your business in ways that you never imagined possible. The world of big data that we live in is waiting- so jump in!

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About the Author:
Kaylee Pohlmeyer is a M.S. student at Medill’s Integrated Marketing Communications Program. She will be joining General Mills in 2014 as a Marketing Communications Planner and has a passion for food and technology.  Find her on Twitter- @kpohlmeyer

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