Catches Up, Enables Local Apps With Free APIs

The US YellowPages, owned by AT&T, has revamped its developer offerings to launch a robust set of YellowPages APIs. The company also added a modern developer portal, with the ability to track API calls and test queries. The new service is part of a growing trend to share more local data via API. To kick off the new service, AT&T also launched a contest for developers.

YellowPages originally launched its API in 2006 and most recently provided business listings search. The company enhanced those listings and added additional data to the API. Among the new elements are business reviews, including place ratings. The API also provides access to coupons available from YellowPages customers.

Greg Sterling spoke with AT&T Interactive's Joanna McFarland about the value proposition to developers:

McFarland told me that AT&T is itself a local data aggregator and has cleaned, de-duped and improved multiple data sets from many sources. She also said that there are virtually no rules being imposed on developers. AT&T wants attribution but there are no link-back requirements, ads that must be taken and so on. Indeed, AT&T Interactive is trying to give developers maximum freedom and flexibility; and there are very few rules that limit how developers can use and preset the data.

In addition to the minimal developer restrictions, YellowPages also has a modern developer portal. Create API keys on-the-fly, browse documentation and test API calls right from the documentation.

Also notable is that YellowPages provides reports of your API calls. There are no published rate limits, but the terms of service say "the number of calls... may be limited." Though most APIs track API calls by developer, very few provide this data back to the developer. The Google API Console is the best example of providing transparency to limits and calls.

Developer monetization appears to be missing from this iteration of the YellowPages API. We wrote previously about how Canada's YellowAPI helps developers make money. In the yellow pages world, it's all about distribution. YellowAPI has a handful of ways they pay developers, mostly related to helping them increase the number of end users who see their customers' listings. The previous version of the US YellowPages API had an advertising component. It's missing from the new documentation, but I'd expect it is still active and will become a larger part of the offering once there are more developers on board.

Another way AT&T is courting developers is through a developer challenge over the next month or so. The winner will receive $5,000 and a trip to SXSW. And you'll win 50 bucks if you are one of the first 50 entrants.

The growth of mobile, which has helped fuel the growth of APIs, has also made local data more relevant. Further, the popularity of daily deals sites (we list 35 coupon APIs) has shown there is a real market if companies can get the distribution right. Local has been part of the Web for a long time, it's more important now. We expect to see many more of these local API launches and refreshes in the next year.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Google Maps Pricing Sends Real Estate Site to Open Source


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