How APIs Play a Leading Role in Modern Marketing and Brand Management

“Marketing in the modern era for brands has changed forever,” Nick Constantinou kicked off his APIcon talk (full video at the end of the article) with words he didn’t think would surprise anyone. “The world where mass, interruptive advertising was the norm has changed, and it has pretty much changed forever. Those days of spending big bucks on TV spots and hoping that’ll do the trick have well and truly gone, especially as we now have more touchpoints, devices and channels to connect with people that ever before.” APIs are the way that we connect those devices and as such play a pivotal role in this new world of marketing. But what exactly is Digital Marketing and how do APIs help drive brand success? Constantinou's talk offers some clues.

The New Reality of Digital Marketing

Mad Men isn’t just literally over, their fictitious big bucks advertising legacy is over too. Constantinou kicked off his talk about how the work of marketeers have transformed forever, and, if I may say, in a really good way. We can do much more, reach many more, and make more of an impact on a much smaller budget. Like last year when, at the power outage during the Super Bowl, the crafty guys at Oreo whipped up an ad of a cookie brightening darkness with the caption “You can still dunk in the dark.” One fast-moving social media manager’s quick Tweet outperformed the million-dollar Super Bowl commercials.

Real-time marketing example - Oreos

Credit: Nick Constantinou - APIs and the Untapped Opportunity in Business Travel   

“The world has changed forever and I think brands and the modern era of marketing have more opportunities than ever before, more interesting ways to connect with people,” Constantinou said.

“Software is very much the primary and visible expression of a modern brand” 

He also noted how marketing has changed for brands directly with how, increasingly, software sells hardware. “Primarily because of digital, all brands have become software brands.” He pointed to brands like Airbnb and Amazon that have essentially no inventory, but they sell so-called hardware via their software. This will become even bigger as we enter the Internet of Things. We will have Amazon Dash allowing you to order your groceries at the touch of a button or your refrigerator deciding you need more milk and ordering it without you even being involved.

“Software is very much the primary and visible expression of a modern brand,” Constantinou said.

No brand can or will be able to afford to avoid digital, and we can learn those lessons from history.

Apple certainly wasn't the first nor the most well-known MP3 player, but it basically became the only player in a short time through beautiful design and branding, finally destroying the competition by creating iTunes. Not long after, it knocked Nokia and Motorola out by again creating  a product that was more accessible and easier to use—you may have heard of it: the iPhone.

Similarly, Facebook overtook MySpace because “They understood their primary expression of their brand was software and they decided to build a piece of software that was easier to use,” and made photo uploading second nature to all of us. “And they created a good old-fashioned killer feature called newsfeed, which is now pretty much oxygen to over a billion people on the planet.”

For both winners, it wasn’t about being the first, it was about lowering the barrier to entry for everyone.

And, as history is destined to repeat itself, there’s no doubt that the same brand foundations that let these powerhouses take over the Internet and design our mobile world are still true today, namely:

  • simplicity
  • ease of use
  • beautiful design
  • accessibility

But even standing atop these four pillars of a customer-focused product, the industry is too agile to rely on that alone.

Loyalty is a fickle friend.

But while us marketeers have an amazing opportunity to reach millions with less money, in other ways our job is much, much harder. We live in a world where our competitors are always a click away.

“From a consumer behavior landscape point of view, the sheer variety and pace of devices, platforms, and channels is transforming consumer expectations, which in turn is providing some amazing opportunities in the marketing landscape,” Constantinou said.

Loyalty is a fickle friend.

To paraphrase the great Freddie Mercury: We want it all. We want it now. And we want it integrated. Oh and we want it shiny and new. And we expect it to be good, irrespective of brand loyalty or the platform bringing this shiny, new, integrated, immediate, convenient, intimate experience to us.

“They just want brilliant content and they want to be able to control it,” Constantinou said. We always want the choice.

Then, as we get into wearables and the Internet of Things, we get more intimate and the technology becomes both emotionally and physically nearer to us. Is the next step when we swallow nanotechnology encased in a pill to monitor or even fix us?

“People are becoming more comfortable having stuff available on them and available at all times,” Constantinou said.

Which Digital Marketing Will Be Heard in the Digital Cacophony?

Constantinou goes through the important ways to build up your brand successfully in the modern age of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Rule #1: It’s our job to break through the noise.

“Consumers now have the power to filter out brands whenever they want. They’ve got more devices [and] touchpoints with more bits of software on them than ever before, which allow them to decide which brands they lead into their lives or not.” It’s our job to create relevant, exciting and engaging content.

Digital Marketing Rule #2: The brands that win are the brands that remove the pain.

It’s the brand’s responsibility to help people through the user-unfriendly jungle online. “To help people. And to make people’s lives just a little bit easier. And to remove barriers and to fundamentally remove some pain from people’s lives.”

Digital Marketing Rule #3: Social currency is spent when you give us something to talk about.

If you make us laugh or give us any kind of emotional connection, we’ll be much more likely to remember you, share what you have to say and begin to develop a sense of brand loyalty. Just remember the wheelchair-bound dog that had all of us reaching for our Kleenex.

Digital Marketing Rule #4: What role do APIs play in this New World Marketing?

Simply put, as you probably already know, the application programming interface is what increasingly connects our world. APIs have the power to reduce friction, to allow us to connect with things, and to do it on the go wherever we want.

Jennifer Riggins Writer, marketer and luddite in a technical world. Obsessed with helping tech and startups sell their value to us laypeople, improve efficiency, management practices, and message. Learning something new and laughing every single day.