Last week, Twitter announced they’re cutting off API access to providers like Datasift, forcing everyone to go through GNIP, the data reseller service they purchased. Full disclosure, we were a customer of GNIP (not Datasift), and were forced to pay between $5,000 to $20,000 per month for access to Twitter data. And Datasift via Mark Suster is disappointed that Twitter didn’t make the split amicably. People are wondering if Facebook will yank everyone but Datasift’s access in retaliation. My bet is no.
Why does this matter to you?
If you want to grow your community, perform social analytics, or run ads– and if that has something to do with Twitter– then you’ll need Twitter data to make decisions. Twitter folks, if you’re reading this, making decisions = spending money. Without analytics, brands can’t understand where Twitter campaigns are performing. They are in the dark.
So while forcing everyone to go through GNIP may yield Twitter a few million dollars, this is penny-wise and pound foolish. Twitter’s potential advertising business is not worth maiming for data access fees.
That’s why Facebook has never charged for their APIs and likely never will. Facebook even made their ads API open to everyone. Anyone can get basic access without having to jump through hoops. Facebook has even free training in Facebook Blueprint, Facebook for Business, the various Facebook developer garages, and so forth. All of this is free– since it builds the ecosystem of developers, brands, and consumers.
Google doesn’t charge for Google Analytics or the API because they know that stronger intelligence leads to more ad dollars. In fact, Google has been investing heavily in free tools for marketers: Think With Google, Google Tag Manager, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Translate, Google My Business, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and so forth.
If I were Dick Costolo, I’d find out what Datasift customers have been doing with the Twitter data. If the metrics lead to analysis and then action, they’re saving pennies by throwing away dollars.
The last thing customers want to do is get into the business of building data infrastructure. I know this. The very reason we play in the data space is because of the complexities of dealing with multiple APIs from multiple vendors.
Not an option for small businesses and a shaky play for even enterprise-level brands to have their data strategy reliant upon just a GNIP or Datasift. The Adobes of the world will eventually release something here, likely via acquisition, while you see other third parties building logic layers (data models) via platforms (like Pylon from Datasift) so expensive that if you have to ask, you’re missing a few zeros in your budget.
Maybe the marketing automation or tag management players will come in to save us, for the geeks that care to discuss. But for the rest of us, we mourn the slow irrelevance and demise of Twitter at their own hand.
Maybe Twitter with smart folks like Adam Bain will wake up to see that analytics (or at least data) needs to be free.