– Cyrus Ghalambor, founder of Adigami, (www.adigami.com), says:
It’s 8 PM at work and your client has asked for the latest data in the campaign you’re running for an online home goods site. She has also asked you to include one new data source you haven’t worked with before. Do you try to figure out at the last minute what API they are using, then work frantically to try and pull in the data so it is congruent with the rest of the report?
Enterprises are coming to expect more from marketing and business analysts charged with keeping their eye on the ROI. In-house digital marketing departments and external agencies also are tasked now with far more intensive analysis.
In meeting demands for more data, enterprises face the issue of APIs, the gateway to analytics data sources. APIs can stop the train since there is no commonality among them, leaving IT people to face the problem of obtaining data from sources with disparate query language.
Since lean staffs are the norm in this economy, the task of integrating this data is not a welcome one. It takes considerable time to develop connectors so your dashboard can pull in the data. At the same time, companies are no longer satisfied with hand-made Excel reports, and they can no longer spare the time for the manual download of results. They also cannot afford the errors that inevitably happen when you assemble and process so much data by hand.
The answer is the automated collection and integration of data via the cloud, but how to solve the issue of API integration? We pose the concept of an API aggregation service – the alpha male of data integration. This would implement a ‘unified API’ that provides a single interface across many APIs, eliminating the need to build separate APIs, saving your IT and engineering personnel countless hours of development and integration time.
In the digital marketing arena, using one example, the unified API is an attractive solution for cross-channel reporting. Cross-channel marketing is now the norm; analytics must follow with data from search (PPC), display, social, email, and other sources. You can see the challenges this creates when integrating data – even before analytics professionals can do their job of viewing and revising strategy.
If you’re building an app (for web or mobile) that needs to bring in data from a variety of data sources such as Google Analytics and AdWords, Microsoft Bing/adCenter, Facebook (social and ads), Twitter, DoubleClick (and others) then you’ll need to learn the API’s for each and every one of these sources and continue to stay on top of the changes they regularly make.
A unified API solves this dilemma by providing a dozen or so standard calls that are applicable across many platforms. Another benefit: API aggregators keep track of any API changes and improvements that the data providers make, ensuring that enterprises need not worry about any bumps along the data integration road
As an emerging technology, we believe a unified API is a viable and affordable solution for marketing and business analysts – and their IT support – who are struggling to find an easier way to bring in data from a growing number of sources. There is some movement in the industry for API standards but history shows that standards battles tend to drag on. A unified API – via the alpha males of API aggregation — is a workable solution today.