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What is an API and How Is It Used in Affiliate Marketing?

Ready to understand what is an API, what is an Affiliate API and how it’s currently used in the industry?

Let’s get started!

Introduction

You’d probably be crazy if you didn’t agree with the following statement:

APIs are all over the place and have become a common part of today’s technological landscape, the affiliate marketing business, and are simply a crucial aspect which you can’t live without.

However, you feel like you don’t really know much about APIs.

In fact, you ponder upon which are the applications for an API, when did they start being used, how are they used, and even how they will be used in the future to make sure users can have an optimal affiliate marketing experience!

No worries!

This is the article you’ve been waiting for.

In this post, I’ll tell you what’s an API, give you examples of APIs, inform you about the different types of APIs available, and allow you to understand how APIs are successfully used in affiliate marketing every single day.

By the end of this article, you’ll be fully ready to impress your buddies with your API-perfect knowledge.

Enough intro.

Learn what APIs are all about right now!

What is an API?

You’re probably asking a common question:

“What does API stand for?”

API stands for Application Program Interface and it’s a particular set of protocols, routines and tools for creating specific software applications.

An API is basically able to specify how different software components should effectively interact.

An API that does what it’s supposed to do makes it simpler for programmers to develop a particular product.

api

API: Pragmatic Uses

Yes, indeed!

An API is essentially a method for software programs to send sets of commands and/or information on a specific format to other software programs.

It’s used for a simple reason:

To ensure programs are able to effectively communicate with one another, using each other’s precious functions and resources.

APIs are actually provided by any such program which allows interaction with other programs.

Imagine you wanna create a program.

You write and develop it like a pro.

Now, what?

You also wanna use functions that belong to other programs.

But how?

Easy!

Just take a look at the API documentation in order to efficiently canvass through it and ultimately find the list of functions which are available.

What Happened Before APIs?

You’re now wondering:

“What went down before APIs created a tech revolution and changed the digital landscape?”

In that dark time, publishers would basically aggregate an array of diverse paragraphs of specific content and several images from an affiliate network which represented the merchant or advertiser.

What was the problem?

This content could have been awesome and perfect, but there was a risk:

It could NEVER become stagnant or have outdated links.

If the content had those outdated links, there would be no way to update information without manually diving into the website and checking or changing that specific information.

With APIs, the process becomes simpler, since the API can sync information between software applications.

How are APIs used in the context of the World Wide Web?

In the world wide web, APIs allow you to easily gain access to several resources which are basically only available on another software application in a different server.

Here’s an example of how APIs are used:

Know how you can rapidly register on different apps using your Facebook account?

That is possible because Facebook has a specific API and companies can implement their code so they can be able to use that API and provide customers with an easy, reliable, and safe way to access a specific platform.

Thinking about what happens when you don’t use an API?

Simple.

If you choose not to use an API, an application (commonly known as “app”) will – for instance – learn about a new Mobidea Academy post by opening www.academy.mobidea.com

The application will then actually read the webpage as if it were a real human being and it will interpret the content located in – this case – the Mobidea Academy.

Now let’s see what happens when you’ve got an API doing its thing!

With an API, the app would find the info about the web page www.academy.mobidea.com by sending a message to the Mobidea Academy’s API.

The message is gonna be sent in a pretty specific format, known as JSON.

What is the JSON format?

The JSON format (JavaScript Object Notation) is an open-standard file containing data objects and respective attributes.

For instance – when checking for new articles in the Mobidea Academy, the transmitted JSON file could look like

article {
title: “New Article”,
date: 01/01/2017,
content: “Lots of text.”,
author: “John White”
}

What, next?

What happens after sending the message using the JSON format?

After sending it, the www.academy.mobidea.com API then replies with a fairly structured answer, similar to the example above.

But why is this difference important?

Why does it matter how the information is received or interpreted?

Here’s why:

When you use an API, the specific structure of response and request is documented from the get go by www.academy.mobidea.com

This means it will stay consistent, irrespective of whether or not the web page shifts its look and design.

Without the API, the app would obviously need to rely on the unknown fact and expectation that the website would never change its look and feel.

What happens if it does and you don’t use an API?

The app is probably gonna stop working!

Yes!

Why?

Because – due to the change of site structure, design and user experience – the app fails to recognize it.

It simply won’t be able to parse (understand) the data from a particular website.

Ultimately, an API is a safer and more reliable option.

You know full-well that your app will continue to work continuously with a website.

It wouldn’t matter whether or not the website decided to shift its look and design: the API would read it anyway.

Types of API

There are numerous different types of APIs for applications, websites and operating systems.

There are the remarkably popular Java APIs and interfaces within specific classes that allow certain objects to communicate to each other in the Java programming language.

There are also Web APIs.

The most well-known types of API are:

  • Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
  • Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
  • Representational State Transfer (REST)

Still not satisfied?

Want some more examples?

You can think of Windows, the computer OS developed by Microsoft to run PCs (personal computers.)

Windows has lots of different API sets which are used by both applications and system hardware.

Moreover, Windows isn’t the only operating system which provides API, since the majority do.

The aim?

To make sure programmers can actually create applications which are consistent with the specific operating environment.

Web APIs are also used by third-party software developers in order for them to create software solutions for users.

Examples of APIs

Finding examples of APIs isn’t that hard to do.

Why?

Because APIs are now common currency, which means they’re super popular and all over the web, doing what they were created to do.

social media channels

Tech giants such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook all have APIs, for instance.

Twitter’s REST APIs give programmatic access to write and read Twitter data.

They basically give developers access to core Twitter data.

In addition, the Search API gives developers methods for them to interact with trends data and Twitter Search.

YouTube is also in on the action.

Google APIs allow software engineers to integrate the videos showcased on YouTube as well as the functionality into either applications or websites.

Here are some of YouTube’s APIs:

YouTube Player API, YouTube Data API, YouTube Live Streaming API, YouTube Analytics API.

What about Facebook?

How does Facebook use APIs?

Notice how you can embed Facebook comments on any given website and have those specific comments synchronize with the Facebook page?

API alert!

That’s an awesome way to use APIs to the max, since it makes life easier for a blogger, for example.

How?

The API allows users to write a comment on a specific blog.

That comment will also appear on the Facebook page associated with that blog.

Cool, right?

Advantages of APIs

APIs have brought about a whole lotta great advantages.

I can’t fill the post with a whole list in alphabetical order, which means I’ve narrowed some benefits of using APIs:

  • They’re available for affiliate networks and they work with programs which work directly with merchants
  • APIs have pre-formatted links which are pre-loaded along with the publisher ID, making sure that publishers can earn a commission for redirecting users to the offer
  • They’ve got real-time data that’s always current, and super accurate
  • They’ve got response data in the XML or the JSON format. This means the publisher can easily integrate the specific content

How’s an Affiliate API used in Affiliate Marketing?

The use of an affiliate API is a remarkable feat.

In previous times, programmers would have to work on SaaS integration which meant there was a great deal of manual work implied.

This barrier was super time-consuming and chaotic, preventing affiliate marketing companies from growing as fast as they could, since IT teams would have to waste time with dull manual processes.

In comes API integration, which has clearly simplified the labor of all programmers who work for affiliate marketing platforms.

What are the types of Affiliate APIs used on Mobidea?

On Mobidea, affiliates have the chance to use some awesome APIs which all have one clear goal in mind:

To help users get the information they need much faster.

We currently have a Statistics API, where users can get to check their Stats, and the Offers API, where affiliates can get to see their Offers.

Time for you to understand the functions of each of these two APIs in more detail!

Mobidea’s Statistics API

The Statistics API allows affiliates to get a list with all the stats in the selected format (XML, JSON) for a given day (set in the &date parameter) and with the revenue showcased in the selected currency.

The list can be customized to return only the selected fields (date, hour, operator, country code, track1..track5, revenue.)

Mobidea’s Offers API

The Offers API allows users to get a list with all their offers in the selected format (XML, JSON) with the payout showcased in the selected currency.

The list can be filtered by status (pending, approved, or rejected), offers category, and restriction.

Moreover, it can be customized to return only the selected fields (name, description, status, category, payouts, restrictions, icon, banners, URL.)

Affiliates can use these API URLs to import the data in different platforms to view the sales statistics.

These APIs also help users make different decisions based on the segment where they have more sales, based on the payout for offers, and on other similar cases.

By integrating the APIs provided by Mobidea, you get to be able to see both Offers and Statistics accessible in your favorite affiliate network!

Conclusion

Now that you know what is an API and how APIs are used, it’s important for you to become able to harness all their potential.

This article was meant to be a kind of introduction to APIs for you to start understanding how APIs came to be, and how they’re effectively used in many popular websites all over the world.

Now what?

Take advantage of Mobidea’s Offers and Statistics API to make sure you get the data you need to succeed in affiliate marketing.

Moreover, keep checking the Mobidea Academy for more amazing info on some of the main tech concepts you’ve gotta dominate to become the #1 affiliate marketer in town.

Cheers!

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