The word API—Application Programming Interface—is one that is thrown around quite often in the world of technology. But, unless you’re a developer or working at a technology company, the word may not have any real clarity.

So what the heck is an API?

The textbook definition of an API is “a set of standards for accessing data and interacting with programs.”

For simplicity’s sake, here’s another way to explain it. An API is essentially a contract between two software components and a method of making products and services available over the internet. Developers take API’s offered by software companies, integrate them into their products, and end up making something completely new.

One example is Lyft’s usage of Google Maps. Rather than building their own mapping system, Lyft can use the Google Maps API inside their applications to display maps and navigate between locations.

Another example comes from Shazam—a service that gives users the ability to identify the songs they’re listening to. Instead of licensing millions of songs directly, Shazam can use the Spotify API to enable their users to play the song they just heard from the beginning or save it to a playlist for later. 

By using the APIs of other companies, Lyft and Shazam were able to reduce costs and focus on the core values their customers crave.

When it comes to complex MarTech ecosystem, APIs aren’t optional. They’re required for serious clients who use multiple products and want to integrate data across their landscape. This is why AdRoll has launched our own API Developer program: to enable our customers to automate and simplify their workflows.

Get started with the AdRoll API by visiting our developer site and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates.