What’s a News API—And Why You Might Need One

News and social media monitoring has become a non-negotiable for brands. There’s simply too much content being produced 24/7 across the web—and there’s simply too much power in online narratives for companies to ignore what’s being said. 

Step one for successful news and social media monitoring is having the right tools at your disposal. Simple Google searches aren’t going to cut it. The volume of news and blog sites and social media posts across multiple languages makes it impossible to collate, filter, and dissect brand mentions by hand. That’s why companies turn to other companies that specialize in doing the hard work for them: social listening software specialists. However, when looking for your social listening and media monitoring software partner, you also need to determine how you want to integrate your chosen software into your business. 

The first option is to simply purchase a subscription to a media monitoring software suite, for example, PeakMetrics. Most companies think of this when they think of news and social media monitoring. However, there is another option. 

You can subscribe to a news API and integrate news monitoring directly into your own applications, business analytics or intelligence tools. 

Here’s what to know about news APIs. 

But First…What’s An API

An API or Application Programming Interface is a way for two applications to talk to one another. Say, for example, you decide to use a ridesharing app. You order your ride and then under “Payment App,” you select Apple Pay. As you hit that button, an API takes your ‘request’ (to pay) and interprets it through a web server. 

From there, the API makes another call—or request. This time it’s to Apple Pay. Apple Pay responds with the necessary information, and this information is transferred back to your rideshare app, completing the payment request.

If APIs didn’t exist, it may not be possible to integrate Apple Pay with your rideshare app. Why? Because the two would be speaking different languages. The developers of the rideshare app would have to develop a specific piece of code to interact with Apple Pay. Given how many thousands of third-party integrations are possible for just one application, creating separate pieces of code for each integration is simply not efficient. That’s why developers turn to APIs. 

What’s a News API

A news API is an API that provides a ready-to-go feed of global news coverage. It can be designed to pull information from a single source (say the New York Times) or hundreds or thousands of sources. 

A Quick Look at the Benefits

So, what makes a news API a potentially better bet than a traditional news monitoring tool? It primarily depends on what you want to do with the data. With an API built into your website, you can receive real-time updates about media coverage and social media mentions and then incorporate that data directly into your own business analytics suite. Maybe you need to know everything that’s been said about your product over the past year before developing an important update—and then combine that with all your other product data. Then a news API would be a better fit. 

In addition, oftentimes, with news APIs, the focus is on the raw data rather than the additional media analysis you can pull from a traditional social listening platform. 

A news API also saves you and your employees time. Rather than having to manually create search queries in a different platform, you can pull the data you need directly as you’re working on your business’ website or application. 

What to Look for in a News API

If you do decide to go ahead with a news API, it’s important to purchase the right one. Here are a few of the most important things to be on the lookout for when weighing your options.

  • How comprehensive the API is

Are you only interested in data from mainstream news outlets? Are you primarily concerned with social media? It’s important to recognize how vast the media ecosystem has become and, often, to protect your brand reputation, you need to not only be monitoring traditional outlets but also alternative platforms like Reddit and fringe blogs. A good API will have access to different types of news sources, and a great one will track not only mainstream media but the full diversity of online publications. For example, PeakMetrics connects with 1.5 million news sources, blogs, social networks, podcasts, TV/radio, and email newsletters, and lets you narrowly refine your search categories. You can explore the data in PeakMetrics’ API using their Data Explorer.

Before purchasing, it’s a good idea to test-drive your options and see firsthand what your data samples would look like.

  1. How fast and how often it’s pulling data 

If speed is critical for meeting your social listening goals, then you need to be sure your API is capable of generating updates within the time frame you need. Do you need fresh data every five minutes? Every hour? It’s important to ascertain whether the news API you choose can keep up with your specific data update needs. 

  • Ease of integration and use

APIs are supposed to make it easy for two applications to talk to one another—at least in theory. A good news API will be able to integrate into your existing website or application and communicate with your existing analytics software seamlessly. Look for a news API based on newer standards that simplify integration, such as JSON/REST or GraphQL. 

  • What kind of analytics it’s offering 

Raw data is good—but it’s only half the battle. What matters most for businesses are the conclusions you can draw from that data. A good news API won’t just pull a list of articles mentioning your brand; it will offer you the option to pull important analytics about what those mentions mean for your company—things like brand sentiment or website credibility. PeakMetrics has put together a good primer on what data is essential for successful brand monitoring in today’s world and is a good starting point for determining what type of analytics you’d need your news API to provide. Its own news API has over 50 metadata properties for some of the richest analytics on the market.

Is a News API Right for You?

It all comes down to your personal needs. While the right news API can bring you real-time data about conversations surrounding your brand directly to your business’ website or application, you may need to create more targeted searches at distinct points in time. Or perhaps you are more concerned with competitor analysis than the number of headlines surrounding your own business’ latest news. Then a more traditional news and social media monitoring tool may work best. Some companies, like PeakMetrics, offer both options. In that case, a great first step is finding a social listening specialist you love, and talking to their experts to see what is the best fit for your business. 

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