Niki Banerjee
Mar 31, 2020

How APIs can help programmatic buyers become wizards in their craft

Xandr's associate director on the power of the humble API.

Niki Banerjee, associate director, Xandr
Niki Banerjee, associate director, Xandr

Text: Niki Banerjee, associate director, Xandr

What if I told you that — like wizards — programmatic media traders could use a secret power, known and mastered by too few, to augment their powers and efficiency when setting up and optimising campaigns or building post campaigns reports? 

This secret power is nothing else than the humble API.

So, what are APIs exactly?

While a Google Search may return a host of acronyms, the API I refer to stands for ‘Application Programming Interfaces.’

An API, or application programming interface, is a programming method used to interact with software, applications, or tools. It provides a simplified querying language that allows consumers or developers to access underlying databases and hardware without disrupting stability or reliability, and without knowledge of underlying programming languages. In simple terms, software companies often create APIs to enable clients and third-party partners to access key functionalities without having to browse and push buttons within a User Interface (UI). 

At Xandr, whenever we create a new feature on our strategic buying platform, Xandr Invest, we always start by building the necessary API services before we build the UI. In doing so, we provide our customers the opportunity to build unique solutions while increasing control over their operations.

The power of the API

While creating just one audience segment may take a few clicks and about 15 seconds through the Xandr Invest UI, imagine having to create 200 segments and 300 advertising strategies. This is where APIs, combined with any programming language, or even sound Excel skills, become very helpful. What could take several hours and hundreds of clicks can take less than a minute by executing a script with just a few API instructions.

Clients use APIs to take advantage of our platform by grabbing raw data, hooking in their own pieces of the ad serving puzzle, or building on top of our infrastructure. Across industries, we’ve seen a broad range of custom solutions built on top of the Xandr API to create unique programmatic offerings. These include: 

Instant reporting dashboards. Enable a financial institution to access any piece of data in near real-time from their internal measurement dashboards, giving its leadership team the ability to evaluate the effectiveness, and alter the progression, of a campaign instantly.

Custom bidding solutions. Allow e-Commerce and betting companies to leverage their first-party data to create more personalised advertisements and bidding prices based on consumer preferences, leading to a significant increase in click through rates and decrease in cost per click. 

Data integrations. Implemented by an Addressable TV specialist to activate partnerships with broadcasters, enabling more precise targeting based on deterministic location data. In Australia specifically, this targeting has proven to be more accurate than geo-targeting based on IP addresses. 

Workflow automation solutions. Leveraged by agency and publisher programmatic trading desks to streamline processes and maximise the lifecycle of a campaign.

Our own Services team also uses our APIs daily to create multiple targeting strategies at once. In turn, we’re able to efficiently accomplish a number of tasks that otherwise would take hours to execute.

How to use an API

If you’re an advertising buyer looking to take more control over operations, create more unique solutions and increase automation, there are a few simple steps you can take to understand and implement APIs. 

Step 1: Set yourself a tangible personal goal, like automating a simple task that you do often — let’s say creating a campaign object on Xandr Invest.

Step 2: Learn the basics of how to use your laptop’s terminal (for example by going through this OpenClassrooms online course) or install an API testing tool like Postman.

Step 3: Get your hands dirty by making your first API call on your laptop’s terminal or Postman to authenticate to the API of your choice.

Step 4: Try doing a simple task using the API and verify the result using the UI. At this stage you can already consider yourself an API user! But why stop there?

Step 5: Learn the basics of Python through an online step-by-step Tutorial like this one.

Step 6: Spend a few hours to work on your personal goal (step 1).

As advertising automation continues to develop, being able to leverage APIs will become table stakes for any operations job. At Xandr, we fundamentally believe that APIs should be available to clients at no additional cost. As a technology company that values the open internet, we aspire to foster innovation rather than preclude it. As such, in May 2016 we made our API documentation publicly available on the open web so that anyone can build innovative solutions on top of our technology, and look forward to continuing to implement such policies that drive collaboration across the industry.  

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