Digital asset management integrations
Connect marketing systems with an API
In the growing push to increase efficiency by connecting systems and processes, many software companies are offering the option to link systems via a process called application programming interface, or API.
This article explains what APIs are, how you can use them to integrate your digital asset management (DAM) system with other applications, and some technical basics of APIs.
At the most basic, an API allows applications to communicate or interact with each other.
They are common in today’s digital world. Everyday examples include logging into software or comments sections with Facebook or Twitter credentials. Specialized APIs can be useful to marketers, designers, and publishers.
An app finds the current weather in London by opening http://www.weather.com/ and reading the webpage like a human does, interpreting the content.
An app finds the current weather in London by sending a message to the weather.com API (in a structured format like XML). The weather.com API then replies with a structured response.
A good analogy for APIs is a two-way bridge between systems. One system offers the API, and the other system builds a bridge to connect. In most cases, the DAM system provider will offer the API for customers to connect to. It looks something like this:
The API bridge, or connection, between systems means that data, files, or information can be retrieved from sources more quickly.
Integrating your DAM system
In the digital asset management (DAM) context, API functionality allows you to connect the rich media in your DAM with other systems you might use. By allowing programs and applications to communicate and share data, APIs can help you connect your content with marketing technology and
- Integrate DAM with your other programs,
- Promote usability of all systems, and
- Save time and money by creating efficient workflows.
APIs can be very handy throughout the digital asset lifecycle. Common APIs connect the assets in your DAM to:
- Content management systems (CMS) for populating external websites. Examples: WordPress, Drupal
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software, enabling social media and newsletter engagement. Example: Salesforce.com
- Creative design software. Example: Adobe Creative Suite
- Project management programs. Examples: Basecamp, Workfront
- Social media publishing platforms. Example: Hootsuite
(You can see a comprehensive list of tools that integrate with DAM systems here.)
In short, APIs can save time by creating connections between systems and eliminating extra steps.
To connect to an API, you work with your DAM providers integration team. You have to get the “keys” to access the integration.
APIs: Technical Information
This section is a brief overview of the technical side of APIs, including custom vs. “out of the box” integrations and different types of APIs.
Out of the box vs. custom: Some DAM APIs are “out of the box” and may be featured as integrations by providers. DAM providers offer ready-made APIs that connect to popular systems and programs like WordPress and Salesforce. If you are interested in APIs, make sure to ask during demos and conversations with potential DAM providers.
If you have specific needs you can develop a custom application that connects to the API from your DAM provider. Custom APIs can be costly but often worth the investment. An example of a custom API for digital asset management is a branded iPad app that displays product collections for salespeople to use. Typically, a custom API begins with a very clear need. They are often built by third-party contractors.
Types of APIs: There are two main types of APIs: SOAP and REST. They differ in how they request web services and resources. SOAP APIs are on the way out, as the connection is not as durable and can be affected by changes to your DAM system.
When it comes to types, make sure that the APIs you use or develop are robust and will support the systems you want to connect.
In today’s digital workplace, APIs are going to become more commonplace as companies connect systems. By using API functionality, you can integrate systems already used in your workplace and get greater value from those systems. Benefits include:
- A more holistic effort from your systems to achieve goals
- Easier adoption of new systems when they work with familiar systems
- Application of a universal system
When it comes to digital asset management, APIs can help you connect rich media content to platforms for designing, publishing, and managing projects.