Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The information democracy hits old media

The New York Times has released three APIs in the last month. No, I didn't hear about it either. Doesn't even register when you search on Guardian Media, but it is a far bigger step to freeing information from the traditional publishers' archives than the Guardian's move to publish full text RSS last month.

Campaign Finance API app

Why is this? Because of what an API (Application Programming Interface) allows thrird party developers to do. As an example, the most famous APIs are those of Facebook and Google Maps. They are the code that allows content to be remixed, mashed up, passed on, and generally made useful for people.

And why so important for developers? To use an example from Adam Broitman's article for MIN Online:

Say you are a movie buff who decided to create an amateur movie review site. Along with every one of your reviews you want to include one of The New York Time’s 22,000 movie reviews (dating back to 1924). In theory (as there are rules that govern the use of the API) you can build an application that automatically pulls the movie review, and all information that The New York Times has on the movie you are reviewing, into a format that you designed for presentation on your site.

And why so important for traditional publishers? Well, we don't really know yet, as there's no subscription cost, and obvious source of ad revenue. What is really important is that this information used to be hidden away in a destination site, and is now free to move around wherever developers' imaginations take it. Say the example above takes off, then the NYT's reputation will grow as the reference point for online movie reviews. We don't know how the future revenue model of the internet will work, but you can be fairly sure that money will follow reputation.

Do we think the UK tech/media press missed this as they didn't think it was significant?


lenisebrothers said...

This is really interesting because what these APIs do is bring relevant NYT content to consumers via trusted blogs and websites, who will then be more likely to click on the NYT link to find out more.

These APIs also cement the NYT's reputation as an authority, which is also potentially quite powerful.

If the NYT was to look creatively at revenue streams around this, the first thing they could do is model the potential uplift in contextually targeted traffic from these APIs to relevant areas of the site and then increase the CPMs they charge for those channels / behavioural segments.

Graeme Wood said...

Definitely - I think that reputation is everything here: there is no revenue model to base it on yet, but it is safe to assume that reputation drives trust/authority, and trust drives traffic. The most important thing for how this will be monetised (other than increasing reputation) is to test-learn-test-optimise. It is better to try than to sit back for fear of failure (a lesson all brands and agencies should keep remembering)

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