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MarketingProfs Video: What Is an API?

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Not a day goes by when I don't see complex technical terms thrown around in the press or on blogs. I often wonder whether the average marketer knows what half of these terms mean.

This series of articles and videos is aimed at graphically illustrating (this is where the whiteboard comes into play) complex terms in ways that normal, non-geek people can understand.

Next up is API (application programming interface). One of the core tenets of Web2.0 is the idea around "open APIs," as you've no doubt heard before.

The concept behind the API is really pretty simple when you break it down. Think of it as a library of tools that you can access if you have the right key. You can use services from the library and access information and even add information if you have the right keys.

Here is my whiteboard video that explains the whole thing.

(Feed readers, please click through if you cannot see the video.)

Key takeaways:

  • APIs open up and regulate a library of data and services that you can access.
  • APIs are controlled to give and deny access depending on your permissions.
  • Marketers need only know what's available in the library—not how to get it back (that's the technology person's job).
  • Mashups are applications that use these APIs to get and combine data from multiple sources.

Is there a term that's confusing you? Do your tech guys like to show you up and you want a little revenge? Email me ( with the buzzwords that you would like to see explained in a similar post in the future.

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Matt Dickman is a technology evangelist and interactive marketing strategist at digital marketing firm DigiKnow ( He helps clients use technology to reach their marketing objectives.

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