I was doing some planning around a potential business model for commercial implementations of OpenReferral, which provides Open211 open data and API services for cities and allows citizens to find local services. I had separated out two types of metrics: API calls and API traffic. My partner-in-crime on the project asked me what the difference was, looking for some clarification on how it might possibly contribute to the bottom line of municipalities looking to fund this important open data work.
So, what is the difference between API call and API traffic in this context?
- API call: This is the measurement of each call made to the API by web, mobile, and device applications.
- API traffic: This is the measurement of each click made via URLs and URIs served up as part of any API response.
In this context, we are looking to provide municipalities, non-profit organizations, and even commercial efforts that are delivering 211 services in cities around the world. I am not suggesting that every bit of revenue and profit be squeezed out of the operation of these important services; I am simply suggesting that there are ways to generate revenue that can become important in keeping services up and running and impact the quality of those services. It takes money to do this stuff right.
Think of API traffic like an affiliate program or in service of lead generation. This approach requires the usage of some sort of URL shortener service so that you can broker and measure each click made on a link served up by an API. This opens up other security and privacy concerns we should think about, but it does provide a potential layer for generating valuable traffic to internal and partner web and mobile applications. This is just one of several approaches I am considering when we are thinking about monetization of open data using APIs.