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The story behind API – how to enhance the value of advertising platforms
Byon 3. June 2015.
Did you know that you use API (or application programming interfaces) on an everyday basis?
Every time you use your smart device, PC or laptop, a number of calls are sent to someone’s API. This includes actions like checking the weather, chat with your friends and even battery check!
Extending software with API is like learning a new language for a person – it opens new doors and perspectives. To put it simply, we gain better tools to connect and share our thoughts with more people in the world.
Since software solutions are part of our everyday life, it is no wonder that they share the same characteristic. APIs are just the kind of communication channels that open up these endless possibilities.
How software systems communicate
Whenever you click on some application or web site, dozens of ‘short talks’ are performed in the background. Those ‘short talks’ are executed by sending requests and responses in the software world.
Requests can be sent across different parts of that same application or they can be sent to a piece of software, which exists outside that application.
Likewise, this is true for advertising platforms. A large percentage of the communication between various software systems and advertising platforms today is done via web services.
What is API and how does it work?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. It represents a list of operations that the software is capable of understanding and processing.
Each software system has its own unique implementation of APIs, but only those that follow the predefined rules and guidelines are the ones that will benefit from it the most.
Every request that is sent to the advertising platform has its own method type. There are four most common method types used within APIs: GET, POST, PUT and DELETE. Now that we know this, let’s take a look at one example.
Our advertising platform provides API methods for different operations that we are able to do with our accounts. Depending on the purpose for which we want to use the APIs, we can:
- Send GET request to have an overview in an account parameter.
- Send POST request to create a new account.
- Send PUT request to update a parameter of the account (for instance, a password).
- Send DELETE request to delete an account.
These four methods will reoccur for each entity that we want to work with: affiliate, offer, creative etc. It’s quite simple, right?
Few useful use cases
You can use APIs in an unlimited number of use cases, or sequences of interactions. Let’s take a look at few examples:
- Automatically create an affiliate account when the user signs up on your web site.
- Create reports with your own design, compare data or trigger alarms when needed.
- Create campaigns on the advertising platform by adding items on your web shop.
- Getting information for all active offers so affiliates can automate banners rotation.
Use your imagination to maximize the value that you get from the platform APIs. Another thing you should look for are platforms that offer development flexibility, so you can ask for specific API methods you will need at some point.
How to know which methods are supported by the advertising platform?
In most cases, advertising platforms have online documents and guidelines with a list of all methods and properties that you can read and edit. Those documents represent a sort of a dictionary for their API.
At AdCumulus, we have moved even further by replacing these documents with an interactive page called API playground, which provides a list of all API methods and description of all properties. One huge advantage of this approach is that here you can try the methods out in real time.
Are APIs secure?
Every time we use the internet, we expose ourselves to security risks and using APIs is not an exception. That’s why security is a really important segment for you to consider carefully.
Best security systems consist of multi-layer checks and validation on different parameters. Therefore, we at AdCumulus have set three layers of security that include IP white listening, secret API key and encrypted signature, which together proved to be an excellent combination.
By introducing APIs, advertising platforms open new channels for integration that increase reliability, speed and flexibility, while maintaining the security of the data.
Automation is another benefit because manual clicking on the GUI is replaced with automatically generated request and responses that are sent in the background.
All in all, we’re sure that now, when you have read a brief overview of how APIs works, you will find creative ways to use that possibility. Make sure that you extend your expectation list with one more paragraph next time you search for the best advertising platform!