Twitter recently announced it would open its Ads API to five partners who will provide tools for creating and managing ad campaigns on the site. The move was anticipated and will be heralded as the next step in Twitter's revenue growth and overall maturation.
That said there's a deeper evolution of the ecosystem worth considering at work here. API's are the backbone to Web 4.0., which in turn is "about making the connections, about serendipity and about the network taking initiative," according to author and marketing guru Seth Godin. API's will foster the new internet that will allow for Web 5.0, which is to deliver and connect knowledge to biological life, and hopefully, moments of wisdom. API's will also foster a brand's ability to leverage Web 4.0 digital media in more systematic and strategic ways.
To understand the impact Twitter's move can have one simply needs to look at how the evolution of Facebook API's has fostered the social ads growth. Facebook launched its first Ads API in 2011 and in April 2012 Facebook combined the Preferred Developer Consultant (PDC) program and Marketing API Program (MAP) to create the New Preferred Marketing Developer Program. The aim of the program was to further enable and foster API developers to solve the biggest challenges facing marketers, providing ad tech functionality like DFA and MediaMind provided, but for Facebook.
Prior to this framework being established the lack of ad technology for this space meant media planners and buyers needed to login to Facebook to manage their buys. The results of this process meant utilization of a system not robust enough to fit more savvy marketers' needs, leading to inefficiency of media investment and manpower.
The API developers were solving problems including the complexity of a new ad format in social as well as how to handle new groups of teams like PR needing to work in systems alongside creative and media partners. The functionality the API developers created allowed for brands to identify and select the best enabling technologies to create, manage and analyze ads.
Going forward, the bigger opportunity for brands exists in now having tools that can combine data from both Twitter and Facebook into one system, which is exactly what this move by Twitter allows tool developers to do. The power of the combined data allows for overall efficiencies in workflow as well as combined analytics.
The world of API development is accelerating. Companies that don't leverage an open source/API approach to forward development will struggle.
Beyond expected efficiency and performance gains specific to twitter we would the logical next step in the API 4.0 development will come with formalized API programs around other key social platforms including LinkedIn, Pinterest and eventually Google+.
Cary Tilds is Chief Innovation Officer for GroupM. Cary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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