Gnip's Audience API Moves out of Beta

Gnip's Audience API, now generally available to all, promises to let brands and marketers glean real-time, in-the-moment data about audiences that convalesce around topics, events, or other users. The idea is to give companies as much information as possible about those with whom they might want to engage -- be it directly or via marketing/advertising.

Twitter first revealed the Audience API at its Flight Developer Conference last year. The social network acquired the API when it bought Gnip in 2014. It continued work on the API internally before showing it off in October 2015. The API has been in limited beta since. Twitter provided access to the API outside the U.S. in markets such as Mexico and Brazil.

At its core, the Audience API looks at custom-defined groups of Twitter users. Brands and marketers can gather data about those users and then analyze the data to gain insights that might benefit their own business. Twitter has taken care to build four key elements into the API:

  1. Deliver information not available via analysis of public content
  2. Return insights in real time
  3. Seamlessly integrate alongside existing Gnip APIs
  4. Protect user privacy.

The API does this by pulling Twitter's audience and demographic tools and then matching them to 10 different parameters that are arranged however the brand/marketer wishes. Those parameters include gender, language, interests, country, region, city, TV genre, TV show, wireless device type, and wireless network type. Cross referencing these parameters with any topic, conversation, influencer, or event taking place on Twitter instantly is what delivers the marketing gold. These models are what power Twitter's suite of advertising products.

For example, today's Presidential candidates might analyze the public's reaction to world or local events in order to refine their own messaging.

While testing the API over the course of the last 9 months, Twitter devised several new methods of audience construction to allow marketers more leeway in defining those audiences. Marketers can look at the followers of any @handle without downloading IDs from Twitter's public API. Brands can quickly create and analyze Twitter users who've interacted with the brand's own, organic Tweets -- and even go so far as to see what types of users have clicked, liked, or retweeted the brand's messages. Last, brands can create audience segments based on other first party data, such as email addresses, phone numbers, or mobile advertising IDs. Privacy, by the way, is still important.

"The approach we have pursued is grounded in probabilistic data aggregation and differential privacy," explained John Heywood, Data Product Manager at Twitter, in a blog post. "Our continued work in this area has allowed us to maintain the same levels of protection while making important product improvements throughout the Audience API Beta -- namely, reducing the minimum audience size a customer can query from 10,000 users to 500, and greatly reducing the reporting thresholds on the output of the API."

iCustomer, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, successfully tested the Audience API with its customer service unit. It was able to put Audience API data to use in helping its own customers handle event and public relations crises in a proactive way. Learning about the affected audience quickly allowed them to craft appropriate responses.

Twitter said documentation for the Audience API is available here. The documentation includes a broad overview, as well as as reference materials to making API calls and requests. Brands and marketers looking to take advantage of the APIs new powers should contact their Gnip account manager, or sales at Twitter. 

 
Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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