Search APIs

Aug 8, 2005 - 5:38 pm 0 by

Detlev Johnson is the moderator for this wonderful new SES session. He said search engines have offered agencies tools to interface with the search engine systems in the past. This is the topic of that session.

Kevin Lee with Did-It was up first. 45% of audience is techy, 45% are marketers. The APIs are here because there is a need for it. In the past, you had to create a spider of your own to scrap the screens to automate the process. You basically had to pretend you were a human, and interact with these screens. Very inefficient for both the 3rd party and the search engines. API = application programming interface, by the way. APIs exist to enable you to automate processes that would be time intensive if done manually. Through the use of APIs you can leverage the processing power of your server and databases to communicate with each other. APIs do not replace all human interaction, but they make humans more efficient. There are non commercial APIs for Web search, Google API (, Yahoo API ( What can you do with search APIs? (1) Check position, (2) analyze content (3) competitive research and so on. Paid Search PPC Management APIs are for commercial reasons. Yahoo!'s PPC API program has been around for many years. Google AdWords API is, of course, in beta. and APIs help level the playing field for larger marketers. Is it worth building your own APIs based on software to manage PPC campaigns? Depends on the different APIs you need, number of keywords, getting the market state for a keyword listing is easy but its hard to know what to do with that info, and bidding logic can get complicated particularly in hybrid auctions. APIs are always missing some of the features you would want, so look through the API spec before implementing. XML Paid Inclusion is essentially an API of sorts; tuning feed mix, tuning titles body description, and volume and position for some phrases. Why are the artificial intelligence systems hard? Syndication of engines may change, competitive reactions differ by keyword, conversion changes, click volume change, billed clicks change and likelihood of click fraud change. Upcoming Paid Search APIs: MSN AdCenter, Ingenio API, and Paid Search APIs are turning into media management APIs (contextual, behavioral, banners, etc.) APIs can go down, what do you do when this happens? Yahoo or Google's system may flake out (they do). Position centric algorithms in PPC software create a perfect environment for bid wars. Constant changes at the engines require frequent changes to the bidding wars. Maximize profit, you must buy the best clicks first, keep buying clicks until you maximize profits, know the elasticity of your marketplace, take into account keyword volatility, and react and predict. The engines are moving more towards "yield" optimization, less about specific position and more about averages. You need to move towards a more holistic perspective when programming these PPC APIs. Google is serving ads based on predictors and MSN is using demographics. The future of media will be digital through APIs. [My notes, my company uses APIs all day for all sorts of purposes; old ones include, shipping and payment services, also news feeds, search apis and so much more).

Rien Heals from Performics was up next. They manage keywords, creatives and bids with APIs. He throws up a graphic that shows one way to build an API from a work-flow perspective. Its all about extraction of data and submission of data - the logic comes from your side. With performics, you use one system to communicate with the PPC engines. API considerations; throttle limitations, money, inconsistent use of standards, testing and constant change. Best practices; define your own vernacular (different search engines use different terms), establish a solid framework, push search engine communications to the fringes, and test and development.

A9, DeWitt Clinton to talk about OpenSearch 1.0. When they launched A9 they had six or seven columns on the site, and they wanted to add more. He said as they added them, using APIs, each one was different. But when you think about it, search is pretty much the same. So A9 wanted to propose a standard for this, and recommended using RSS but it was missing something for publishing search results. OpenSearch added the missing bits as a simple extension to RSS (bits include total results, start index and items per page). Over 200 search engines available today as OpenSearch.

Yahoo, Jeremy Zawodny. Yahoo! offers several APIs ( Flickr, Maps, Music, RSS, Search, Shopping, Widgets. Search APIs include; Web (myweb, myweb 2.0), image, news, video, ads, shopping, and audio. Most also offer RSS feeds. What is involved. You need is an application ID, simple URLs (REST interface, simple XML results, and RSS too), Rate limits are 5,000 requests/service/ip/day and many examples on the Yahoo Developer site. Why do you want to use the APIs? its better then scrapping tools (format won't change without version change, same search clusters serve results), supported email forums, dedicated team and lots of preexisting tools and examples. Advertising APIs; AWS (advertiser web services) gives you XML interface, Yahoo Search Marketing openAPI, launched in 2001 as "DTC XML". He shows a slide of how it works as a workflow. Key Benefits of AWS; efficiency, automation, and customization. He then describes difference between the AWS and Overture Account management - mostly logical stuff. There is a free program available, production level program with fees and requires agreement to terms and conditions. For more info on AWS email [email protected].

Q: Will Yahoo! offer SOAP protocol? A: Jeremy said most probably in the future.

Q: I asked why do the total results not match with Yahoo! (Google wasn't there)? A: Jeremy said there are different clusters being used (same as on the main Web search) but he said you should not use it for that information as the final number. There are many reasons why the total results dont match, he said.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums.


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