The benefits for brands of becoming an API

Andrea Sophocleous

Farrah Bostic, digital creative strategist at consultancy The Difference Engine, had already won the Battle of Big Thinking at the CIRCUS Festival of Commercial Creativity in Sydney before making a presentation to the conference. And her efforts to inspire marketers to think about applying the principles of application programming interfaces (API) to their brands proved equally worthy of recognition.

Largely the domain of tech heads until now, an API is a protocol described by Bostic as "a way for one piece of software to shake hands with another piece of software and be able to make sense of, and make use of, the information that those two pieces of software have in their databases and their processing."

An everyday example of an API is the way Google Maps operates inside other applications, such as Foursquare, to deliver a blended experience for the user. Many apps that allow users to chart their route while running also use Google Maps, as did Ushahidi, an open source platform employed during a Kenyan election to track civil unrest and police brutality. That service allowed people to text in their location data and report what was happening, and has since been used in rescue attempts in Haiti and the recent snow cleanup in New York.