Connectivity is an amazing thing. We live in a world where everything is connected, where we can purchase, post or plan anything with the tap of a button.
But how does this work?
How do platforms written in different coding languages, calling things different names, and formatting data differently send and receive information they both understand? Furthermore, as each pursues its own agenda how do you keep up with changes, at scale, to keep the conversation flowing?
The answers lie in just three letters. API.
What is an API?
APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are the unsung heroes of our connected world. They are the engines that power every digital transaction and request we make from checking flights to ordering pizza online.
The dictionary defines an API as “a set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.”
Simply put, an API is the starting point for how you expose or receive information. Think of an API as your messenger taking a request from one platform, checking for the answer on another, and returning with that answer.
How do APIs help us trade D/OOH?
In DOOH, APIs hold the keys to automation and programmatic trading. They are the messengers passing information needed to make a transaction, such as price and availability, between buyers and sellers in a way they both understand. Instantly with the click of a button. An essential step in processing transactions via automated guaranteed or real time bidding.
Simple huh? Well, yes and no. There’s one more complication to figure out.
In the real world, buyers and sellers have different ways of talking about the same things. Some might call a 48 sheet a ‘panel’, while others a ‘frame’ or ‘location’. The buyer might define their purchase by ‘number of plays’ while the seller processes them as ‘slots’ or ‘flips’.
Think of it as two spreadsheets – one holds the requests from a buyer and the other the inventory of the seller. Each contains information that is essentially the same, but the column order doesn’t match up and they are labelled with different names for the same thing.
This would, of course, cause the request to fail.
Enter our clever messenger the API. Not only is the API ferrying messages around, but it also translates the messages so both parties can understand them. So in the case of our two spreadsheets, the API would rearrange the columns, align the different headings and anything else – such as translating French to English!!
It’s APIs that make it possible for computers to take care of your trading. They’re what ultimately creates connectivity. So whenever you think about an API, just think of it as a messenger running back and forth between you and your buyers interpreting the message as it goes.
How do I build an API for OOH?
Building an API is something you can do yourself. It might take a bit of time and resources but it is possible. But for many, the speed bumps occur when trying to achieve connectivity at scale.
The number of agencies, DSPs and trading platforms is growing every day and many now represent some of the biggest buyers of OOH media. To connect with them, you need to build an individual API for each one. And the work doesn’t stop there. As both these companies and the industry, continually change and grow your APIs will need to be maintained and updated with them.
That’s where a technology partner comes in. At Signkick it’s our job to build, maintain and future-proof these APIs on your behalf. Better yet, many of the connections you need have already been built, streamlining your entry into this automated trading ecosystem, and letting you get on with doing what you do best.