Measuring the Success of a Public Web API


I'm a member of a Google group called API Craft. There are some really smart API folks talking about everything from API deployment to API business strategies there.  

The other day someone in the groups asked:

How does someone measure success in developing and deploying a public–facing Web API?

Scott Regan (@scottregan) of Apigee gave a great response, and I wanted to share with everyone here. Scott’s suggestions for measurements were:

  • Revenue - For public APIs, could be affiliate program revenue, ad revenue, or if incremental traffic from apps to the website has a known monetization rate
  • Reach - Incremental new user accounts or unique users
  • Partnerships - Number of new partnerships established around your API
  • Apps - The number of new apps developed using your API
  • Traffic - Apply percentage of incremental traffic ("our API channel is now X% of total internet traffic")
  • Brand - Measuring increased 'brand', but only if the company has an really established way to do this

Scott goes on to say:

When it comes to business metric tracking one thing i've seen work well is when the API team publishes a 'dashboard' widely and regularly - tracking actual results to estimates - because it helps PM focus the roadmap on what moves the business needle as agreed and avoid getting the team pulled in different directions.

Each API could potentially have different success factors depending on the type of API or the goals of a company. But revenue, reach, partnerships, apps, traffic and increased brand awareness are good places to start.  Thanks Scott.