As the number of APIs grow, the number of ways in which API owners control and incentivize their developers ecosystems evolves. APIs are your business development 2.0 platform, and it is up to you to tailor your services to incentivize your developers as well as control API usage to meet your business goals.
One emerging way to control API consumption to meet your business goals is through a balance between pricing and terms of service (TOS). By offering branding opportunities to developers that they can deploy alongside the content and resources they consume via your API, you can easily turn your developer community into an extension of your marketing department.
Price breaks can be offered to developers who extend your brand, encouraging them to build a business around your API content and resources as long as it adds value to your brand. API consumers who opt not to take part in branding, can be charged more, adding value to your company purely as revenue opportunity.
Branding and pricing controls are a growing way to ensure your API adds value to your company either as revenue or brand syndication, but another way some content and data API providers are finding success, is through a contribution incentive. Just like brand extension, API contribution gives developers an opportunity to participate deeper and receive price breaks, while also be encouraged to contribute content back to an API, enriching content and add valuable information back to your companies API.
Writeable APIs can be made available allowing developers to contribute user reviews, comments, annotations or even correct and update content that originated from your company. Proper service and key management around your API, allows you to track which users contribute content back to your system. As a result of this participation you can offer further price breaks in the form of credits, or even end up paying customers for their content contributions.
Incentivizing and controlling API usage through brand, pricing and contribution may not work for every API, but it offers some interesting opportunities for publishers and API owners to develop new forms of self-service, business development relationships around their API ecosystems.
About the Author: API Evangelist for CityGrid, Hacker, Entrepreneur, Tech Gypsy, Beer Snob and Father. A unique blend of a IT, data, programming, product development, business development and online and social media marketing skills.