[White Paper] Interconnections via API: Improving the performance of digital analytics
Interconnections via API:improving the performance of digital analyticsby Marion Joffre, Product Marketing Managerand Bernard Segarra, Editorial CommunicationsOnline Intelligence SolutionsW H I TE P A P ER
22SummaryINTRODUCTION 3The API:a promising data exchange template 4How can connecting differentplatforms help digital analytics? 8CONCLUSION 13AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via API
3IntroductionNowadays digital marketing must include the new uses andtrends of the fixed and mobile Internet: the social networkboom, the rise of web and mobile applications, onlinecommerce (e-commerce, m-commerce, f-commerce),Smart TV, gamification, the Internet of things etc. Thesedifferent phenomena are completely changing the way inwhich we use the Internet and the way in which we interactwith brands.Data is becoming an essential element, making the linkbetween user/brand interaction to provide users withan increasingly targeted, relevant and personalisedexperience. Data is becoming a competitive advantage byproviding companies with better knowledge and a betterunderstanding of their market, and will also have an effecton the company’s overall performance. Data is no longer aluxury but a true necessity for survival.If we consider data as being a central element, it willcreate an environment whose existence will revolve aroundthe data. This environment is known as a digital ecosystem.A digital ecosystem can be defined as an environmentwhich is made up of multiple items that continuallyinteract with one another. For marketers, the goal is toidentify market trends, view their audiences’ behaviour,identify new opportunities and communicate with users aspersonally as possible.The challenge is rather about synchronising all of the dataso that it can be put into perspective, analysing the linkbetween cause and effect, and establishing correlations.The aim is to take a reliable piece of information from theabundance of data available which can then be used tomake appropriate decisions. With this is mind, a digitalanalytics project can help companies rise to this challengeby playing a more or less central role within the digitalecosystem.API (Application Programming Interface) technology makesit possible to programme the different systems within acompany so that they communicate with each anotherautomatically. This fast-growing communication channel isstarting to become integrated into web analytics and looksset to vastly improve the performance of digital audienceanalyses.The aim of this white paper is to deal with the mainchallenges associated with interconnections and tounderstand the potential of using APIs in digital analyticsprojects.AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIThe challengeis rather aboutsynchronisingall of the data sothat it can be putinto perspective,analysing thelink betweencause and effect,and establishingcorrelations.
4The API: a promising dataexchange templateGoal: synchronising dataCompanies have to accept one of the most complex andcomplicated challenges out there: to be increasinglyeffective, proactive and personal when communicatingwith each of their clients. Nevertheless, companies arestill confronted with another problem: size. The lack ofhomogeneity of the different internal environments withina company means that information is not shared correctly,and as a result affects the smooth running of exchanges.To make things more complicated, the number of contactpoints with brands both in the online world and in the realworld have increased dramatically over the last few years.The digital world has experienced a dramatic increase andcompanies nowadays are required to consider the onlineworld as part of their strategy and operations. As a result,we demand marketing teams to be very versatile, and usea wide range of marketing levers which makes reportingincreasingly difficult, and also reveals problems associatedwith making budget-related decisions for the differentmarketing channels used.Let’s take the example of television. For many yearsmarketers understood and mastered TV advertising as theaudience was spread out over a small number of channels.Advertising costs were, of course, prohibitive and for somechannels this is still the case today, but companies wereguaranteed the positive impact that this advertising wouldhave on sales. Today, the introduction of satellite television,digital terrestrial television, pay as you go and replaychannels etc., have seen the same audience be distributedover many more different channels, making it more difficultto predict audience needs.Potential customers can now view brands on a wider rangeof media than just the traditional media such as TV, radioand newspapers for which brand advertising is no longerexclusive. User/brand interaction has clearly becomeincreasingly complex. Some people will use a brand’swebsite, maybe even the online store to find out consumeropinion on discussion forums, ask questions directly onthe company’s blog, keep up to date with the company’slatest information on social networks etc. Other people,however, prefer to contact the customer service directly bytelephone, fill in a request for contact form or go directly tothe shop etc.AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIPotential customerscan now view brandson a wider range ofmedia than just thetraditional mediasuch as TV, radioand newspapersfor which brandadvertising is nolonger exclusive.
Let’s not forget the different technological channels usedin the process! Tablets, mobile applications, Smart TVs,the Internet of things all represent the different channelswhich online operations have to be adapted to. In a certainway, the customer takes control of what they are exposedto, meaning that they have become increasingly volatileand are not as easy to influence as before.From a brand perspective, these exchanges are more oftenthan not separate from one another as they rely on theuse of different management tools (email campaign tools,CMS, CRM, hotline management software, cash registersoftware in shops) which are management by differentdepartments (marketing, sales, supply chain, customerservice client etc.). With such a wide range of toolsavailable, information providing details on the differentinteractions with users starts to get lost, preventing thebrand from implementing any automated actions accordingto a set of engaging criteria.According to the “2012 Brite/Nyama Marketing inTransition study» 36% of marketers in the USA know thatthey have “lots of customer data” but “don’t know what todo with it.”http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/null/2012-BRITE-NYAMA-Marketing-ROI Study?exclusive=filemgr.download&file_id=7310697&showthumb=05AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APISales history Call center E-Commerce Real time Maintenanceand repairsEmail Saleforces SupportCompetitorweb contentRefunds andrebatesCredit rating RelatedaccountsLocation Purchases Demographics AccountspayableExistingcustomerExistingcustomerPotentialcustomerPotentialcustomer
6The large increase in the number of data sourcesavailable today has forced companies to implement datasynchronisation solutions, whilst taking into considerationthe diversity of the different environments and differenttechnological platforms used.Popularisation of the APIAs we have just seen, it can be very difficult to make allof the different marketing tools communicate with oneanother, simply because they were not designed for thispurpose. Up until very recently a lot of effort had to bemade so that data could be shared.Today, however, this constraint is disappearing, little bylittle. The arrival of new man/machine exchange protocolsallows us to foresee connections which, not so long ago,were not possible on increasingly large volumes of data.The advantage of these new exchange protocols is that theyallow any tool to communicate with another irrespective oftheir technical structure and the language that they havebeen developed in.The term synchronisation is no longer used to refer todata duplication or data replication. The challenge ismuch greater as it requires a much smoother exchangeof information between the different systems in place.The aim is to optimise the flow of data and to improve theresponsiveness of those involved.This is where the idea of API becomes key, as it offers alevel of operability between software components which upuntil now had been unmatched. What exactly do we meanby APIs?“An application programming interface (API) is a protocolintended to be used as an interface by software components tocommunicate with each other. An API may include specificationsfor routines, data structures, object classes and variables.”Source : WikipediaNumerous economic models based on APIs exist includingfree, fee-paying, and limited models. After Ebay, Amazon,SalesForces, GoogleMaps, Facebook, Twitter, there werealmost 8,000 APIs in October 2012, in other words a 100%increase in the space of one year (source: FabelNovel,6 reasons why APIs are Reshaping Your Business,November 2012).AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIThey allow any toolto communicatewith anotherirrespective of theirtechnical structureand the languagethat they have beendeveloped in.
7The Gartner market research company predicts that 75%of Fortune 1000 companies will have an API in 2014 with anestimated 1 million APIs in 2017.It cannot be denied that the openings generated by theAPIs will greatly impact the different brands. Let’s takethe example of Facebook and its “Like” button. Before2010 the button was only available on the Facebook site,but it has become an unavoidable functionality on socialnetworks. As of 2011 the “Like” button became exportableto external sites, linking Facebook to external sites throughthe Facebook API. Potentially, each visitor who visitsan external site has the opportunity to “Like” a piece ofinformation without having to sign in to Facebook. Thisfunctionality has had mind-blowing success: 1,000 newsites add the “Like” button to their site on a daily basis,in addition to the 2.5 million sites which already use it.(Source: FabelNovel, 6 reasons why APIs are ReshapingYour Business, November 2012).When developing AT Internet solutions, the notion of APIhas always been central, allowing us to provide a widerange of possibilities in terms of configuration, automation,data exports and imports.The decision to open up our solution was also strengthenedby our will to maintain and develop a very wide network oftechnical partners, and to respond to customer needs onconnecting different platforms. This opening is essentialfor us as we would like our clients to be free to choosethe set of tools to be used in addition to the AT Internetsolutions.AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via API
How can connectingdifferent platformshelp digital analytics?Marketing ecosystems are becoming increasinglyenhanced with new tools on a daily basis. Duringimplementation, the teams concerned want the tool torespond to the first level request. Once this step has beenovercome, many teams face restrictions and realise theimportance of being able to connect their different systemswith one another.As part of any digital analytics project, connecting differentsystems using an API will make each step of the projecteasier. Let’s see how.Tagging and automatedconfigurationsAll digital projects have at least one essential point incommon: tagging.Whether it be campaigns, content, rich content (videos,podcasts), newsletters etc., it is necessary to use a certainnumber of tags to collect information in order to accuratelymonitor a project’s KPIs.Once the implementation phase is over the marketingteams are then faced with a new challenge: making iteasier to tag new, often temporary, sometimes permanentor recurring campaigns.Today our technological partnerships allow us to offerour customers with procedures to automate campaigndeclaration. Instead of manually tagging each campaignby adding a tag to it in the URL containing the correctparameters, we have created bridges (technologicalsolutions using APIs) between our solution and other emailcampaign, affiliation, adserver, CRM, SEO, CMS solutionsetc. These bridges save our customers a lot of time, as theentire process described above becomes automated.This automated process ensures the integrity of the taggingin place and avoids any incorrect human manipulation.Furthermore, it also allows users to instantly view theimpact that a new campaign has had on their traffic and toquickly measure whether the goals, which were set, havebeen met.8AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIThis automatedprocess ensuresthe integrity of thetagging in placeand avoids anyincorrect humanmanipulation.
9Let’s take the example of one of our technologicalsolutions, AT Connect Retargeting, which has a partnershipwith the Criteo company.Thanks to the connections between our two solutions,customers benefit from reduced costs and require lesstime to implement each campaign.Criteo campaigns are declared automatically in the ATInternet solution configuration zone. The Criteo analysesare available on the AT Internet interface in real time,meaning that users are able to access and read theirresults immediately.Mastering incoming/outgoingdata flowsOnce tagging is in place (automated or manual), datacollection is operational and can begin. Marketing teamscan now work with the data.• Data importsTo make it easier to read data, some connections enhanceweb analyses with new variables from our partners. Thesevariables are imported directly into our solution, meaningthat they can be considered alongside web analytics data.Let’s take the example of a current bridge that existsbetween our web analytics platform and an adserversolution (AT Connect Adserver AdPerf). In addition to theautomated tagging process, we also import an AdPerfmetric known as Post view.AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIOnline Intelligence Solutions Data collectionfor AnalizerNXDisplays information onviewed, purchased orabandoned products1 singleTAG
10AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIBy using a set of specific variables this metric accuratelymeasures the impact of a campaign display by providinga complete view of the path taken by visitors. Users canevaluate the impact that advertising campaigns have onInternet users who view banners before their visit andany conversion, irrespective of the traffic source. Suchinformation can be used to improve how advertisinginvestments are managed, and to allocate a budgetaccording to the best performing combinations that havebeen identified.• Data exportsIntegrating data from a third-party solution into a webanalytics solution provides users with a certain level ofcomfort. However, it is sometimes necessary to do thereverse and export data from our tool to a third-partysolution to reuse the data. Our partner programmeshave also set-up such outflows. Whether the data is to beintegrated into a partner tool or into an internal tool, wehave different methods available which can be adapted foruse in both cases.The need to go further in personalising analyses andadapting them to meet specific user job requirements hasled us to develop a simple, intuitive and customisable dataexport tool.Data Query is a tool which allows users to structure andexport reports using formatted, customisable templates.The templates can be exported in different formats, 2 ofwhich use our API: the IQY connector which is used tocreate dashboards can be updated directly in Excel, andthe REST URL which is created to automatically importdata into a third-party solution used by the company. Eachformat has very specific goals and meets a large number ofexpectations by providing a generic solution which can beintegrated into all types of external tools.Automatic performance managementOne of the most important requests from marketing teamsis about how they can manage their activity and implementaccurate reporting so that they can easily measure theROI of each marketing action in place. This activity canquickly become time consuming and often requires humanintervention on a regular basis. To make this task mucheasier, and to limit any risk of human error it is thereforenecessary to automate this process as much as possible sothat the marketing teams can focus on analysing data.
11AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIData Query contains an innovative and easy to usefunctionality: a connector which links Excel files, in ourcase dashboards, directly with our API. The connectorretrieves web analytics data which has been collected sothat it can be integrated directly into an Excel file. Thisfunctionality is particularly adapted to regular reportswhich use information from rolling periods. Each usercan then easily manipulate the dashboard without theassistance of technical teams.One of our clients, the Solocal Group (Pages Jaunes,Mappy, …,) manages their traffic audience via a set ofautomated dashboards thanks to the AT Internet API.Bruno Guilbot, Data and Behavioural Marketing Manager atthe Solocal group commented on the API’s effectiveness:“The easy to use Data Query tool means that our webanalysts are completely autonomous in creating the APIURLs”.(Re)exploiting the value of web dataWeb data has a clearly defined function: to generate anexhaustive vision of Internet user behaviour in orderto measure the different actions which have beenimplemented. Of course this feature is essential but thedata does not really have any particular goal: for example,it can be used to target a specific audience as part of aremarketing campaign. In this example the data is reusedfor customisation purposes where the aim is to slightlyimprove conversions or to send an additional incentive viaemail reminders to potential customers who abandon theirshopping baskets.As part of our technological partnerships, clients benefitfrom connections between 2 different solutions (forexample between a web analytics and email campaignplatform) providing them with an increasingly accuratelevel of detail.Let’s take the example of a leading e-Commerce playerwho has realised that an important share of their ordersdoes not lead to conversion. To improve the conversionrate, the e-Commerce trader decided to link their emailcampaign platform (for example our partner 1000 mercis)with the AT Internet solution. This allows the e-Commercetrader to send reminder emails to visitors who haveabandoned their shopping basket.The data is reusedfor customisationpurposes where theaim is to slightlyimprove conversions.
12AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIThis automated exchange can be implemented severaltimes a day, allowing our partner to add these users totheir remarketing process. In this case we can imagine asequence of email campaigns which is sent in two distinctphases:• Phase 1: a first targeted email is sent, containing up to 6products which the visitor has viewed• Phase 2: a second targeted email is sent to promote anadditional product if the first reminder email sent failedto generate any conversion.Crossing online and offline dataHow can specific individuals be targeted? By going beyondthe limits of online data. In other words, connecting a webanalytics solution to the company’s CRM tool. This levelof customisation allows companies to provide serviceswhich are adapted to each customer or prospect profile bycombining all of the data collected on all of the differentcommercial tools.Online and offline data can be crossed directly in the webanalytics solution. Data from the CRM will identify eachvisitor and will allocate specific custom criteria to them.The advantage of importing this data is that it allows foraccurate segmentation on imported criteria such as sex,age, socio-professional category etc.On the other hand, data collected by a web analyticssolution can also be exported to a CRM tool, for example,an insurance company whose goal is to increase saleson their web site. To be successful, the company hasimplemented several different types of acquisitioncampaign on different marketing channels (affiliation,sponsored links, social networks, newsletters, etc.).By using a multichannel analysis solution (such as ATInternet’s ChannelOptimizer), the company is able tocollect the set of marketing and organic sources leadingto conversion. The company is then able to inject this datainto its CRM tool, at the core of the customer database, tosegment customer profiles and implement targeted offersaccording to the different customer behaviour observed.Online and offlinedata can be crosseddirectly in the webanalytics solution.
13AT INTERNET / WHITE PAPER / Interconnections via APIConclusionNow that the different technical constraints are beingovercome one after the other, connection possibilitiesare becoming infinite and business opportunities areincreasing considerably. However, before any companythinks about connecting their tools to another solution,they need to take a step back and think about the goals tobe reached. The aim of the vast range of tools available isto make life easier but the danger is that too much timeand energy would be spent on some, incorrectly identified,projects, taking us further and further away from theoriginal goal.As far as analytics is concerned, thanks to API exchangeprotocols the daily work of teams in charge of dataprocessing looks set to be optimised in each phase of thedigital project. The enormous potential that this technologyprovides is transforming companies’ web analyticsactivities. Not only does web data strengthen in value, italso becomes a key element of the marketing ecosystem,because as of now it can be synchronised with the differententities of a company’s information system (imports,exports, crosses, re-exploitation, etc.).This approach, which is mainly based on the exchange ofdata flows with a total opening of the analytics platform,is unique in the online industry where the trend is todevelop proprietor systems and formats. This singularityis promising as it provides clients with a very high level offlexibility and agility, whilst at the same time leaving themthe choice to work with the best tools available.