Why The Trend of Paid APIs Will Hurt Marketers & Businesses

Women with laptop in front of large monitor with code and gears representing API data.

APIs—application programming interfaces—are one of those invisible parts of the internet that thousands of apps and people rely on every day without the end users even realizing it. This shorthand for the sets of functions and procedures that allow other applications to access features and data of another allows everything from analytics dashboards to third-party apps to function. Recently, Twitter shook up the scene by starting to charge for API and Reddit appears to be following suit. Let’s talk about paid APIs and how it’s not going to just hurt apps, but their success and marketers and businesses that rely on them.

How Twitter is Trying to Set API Trends

Back in February Twitter announced they were going to make changes to API access, with leaked news showing a price tag of $42,000 a month for full access. Like with many Elon announcements, what was initially announced and what’s coming are a bit different. There are four tiers (three until developer outcry created the “pro” tier), from “free”—which allows for posting to the site but can’t “read” any of the data, to the price unlisted “Enterprise” which allows everything without caps. Being hailed as a cash grab by Elon, it’s also setting a precedent for others.

Reddit Going CPC for Their API

Right now in the news you might be seeing a similar story: the social media forum Reddit announce back in April that they would be making changes to API access, but only now are we hearing about how much the cost will be—from developers that are shutting down their apps. Apollo, the most popular third-party app for Reddit, said they would be shutting down ahead of the June 30th deadline. Supposedly Reddit is charging $12,000 for every 50 million requests, or $0.24 per 1,000 requests. For an app like Apollo, which fields about 7 billion requests in a month, that would be a price tag of $2 million. This developer story and more are causing widespread protests on Reddit, with subreddits “blackouts” closures and others promising to close down if Reddit goes through with API changes.

Why Marketers and Businesses Should Care

Okay, so while this is obviously a big deal for those who work with APIs or make apps, why should businesses outside of those care? Well, if you’re marketing your business on those platforms (or in our case, marketing for businesses), these API changes can have several knock-on effects:

  • App-killer Moves: For both Twitter and Reddit, developers have announced their plan to kill their apps or decide to pass the cost on. This means if you use these apps, such as analytic reporting or social media scheduling programs, you’ll either have to find a new one or pay more.
  • Shrinking Userbase: Killing apps also means that some users will abandon the platform. The above-mentioned Apollo (which is a Reddit client) has over 168,000 reviews and boast feature just not available in the base experience. Some people will leave (and others in protest of API changes).
  • Less Accessibility: APIs are at the end of the day about accessibility—for you that might be scheduling, analytics, or just a better user experience. But a trend to a less accessible platform, especially moves that can be seen as cash grabs, is not going to be in the best interests of users on that platform and the businesses that market or even live on it.

For me, who writes a lot about analytics, having this information cut off from more users means not only do some great apps go away but you can’t see as well how your marketing is doing. Looking at likes and downloads can show you a lot, but only by bringing it together with all your other marketing can you see the big picture—and for that, you need APIs and the apps that use them. If you want that kind of focus on your marketing with the analytics to back them up, reach out to us at Vision Advertising.

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About the author : Alex Geyer

Alex wears many hats, and not just because he’s bald. A writer by background, Alex writes “content” for Vision – anything from social media statuses to blogs to website copy and beyond. In addition, as Senior Brand Strategist, he builds and maintains all search engine advertising for Vision, manages multiple client projects, and herds many meetings. In his free time, he starts and stops writing novels, reads a copious amount of fiction, plays video games, and an enthusiastic chef at home. He’s trying to become a better plant daddy.

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