Definition: API [Application for Programming Interface]

An API is a way to connect two programs together. In digital marketing, APIs are often used to streamline online shops. For example, you input the data in your CMS and all related programs are then also updated.

They are also often used for digital marketing analytics. For example, Google Data studio connects with other programs (such as Facebook Ads or Google Analytics) to collect stats so they can be combined in various ways.


What is an API and how does it work?

An API (aka Application for Programming Interface) is a machine-readable interface that connects two applications and allows them to communicate with each other. When an application needs to access data or functionality from another application, it makes a call with an API specifying how the information or functionality are required to be provided. The other application then returns data or functionality as requested.


What are the different types of APIs?

There are four main types of API: Open API (aka Public APIs), Partner APIs, Internal APIs (aka Private APIs), and Composite APIs.

Open APIs, aka Public APIs, are available for external users such as developers to access data with relatively few restrictions.  Partner APIs are not available for public use but are exposed to the business partners for communication beyond the boundaries of the company. Internal APIs, aka private APIs, are not available for external use and are exposed to different internal teams inside a company or an organization. Composite APIs, the ones that combine multiple data or services, allows developers to access several services at once.


What Is An Example of An API?

An example of an API is when you have an eCommerce store and need to continuously update information such as product SKUs, product descriptions, pricing info, and more from your manufacturers or wholesalers. An API helps you extract that information from the database of products. This interface is called Product Information API.


Are APIs Free?

The initial development of an API typically costs from $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the type of API. Extra monthly operational and maintenance costs range from $150 to $500. However, there are open APIs that are free to use with some limitations.

Here are a few eCommerce APIs that are free and open that you can experiment with:

  1. Amazon API (free for 1 million API calls and below).
  2. Shopify API
  3. Ebay API
  4. Magento API 



API Definition

Glossary Index

About Tiffany Liem

Tiffany Liem is a digital marketing specialist who creates effective digital marketing strategies that help businesses find new customers. She graduated from Southern Methodist University with an MS in Management and BBA in Marketing.