As the largest customer-centric company in the world, Amazon provides a powerful platform for third-party sellers. One of the most powerful tools in their arsenal is the Amazon Advertising API (Applications Program Interface). This API is a powerful tool for third-party sellers who need assistance in marketplace management.
The following article will dig into what an Amazon Product Advertising API is and how it provides a strategy for your campaigns. By the end of this article, you will understand Amazon API and know how to optimize and scale your process with this platform.
What is Amazon API?
Amazon has two primary forms of API. The first form is for a website to use when advertising products from Amazon. The second is Amazon's console for third-party vendors on their website. Amazon Product Advertising API, formerly called Amazon Associates Web Service (A2S) and before that as Amazon E-Commerce Service (ECS), is an internet service and application programming interface (API) that grants app developers access to Amazon's product listing data. It is accessible via either the SOAP or REST protocols and enables products to be listed and sold through other websites and apps that aren't Amazon's.
The Amazon Product Advertising API is an exclusive tool, only available to members of the Amazon Associates program, enabling affiliates to channel appropriate traffic to their Amazon listings. Amazon’s Product Advertising API has also been expanded to function both on and off Amazon's website.
The Amazon Product Advertising API provides a channel to scale, optimize, and automate advertising. Performance and Campaign data for Sponsored Brands, Products, and displays are available through the API, enabling automatic access for campaign management and reporting.
Amazon Attribution (beta) viewpoints can be seen through the Amazon Advertising API. Amazon Attribution helps measure the impact made by non-Amazon Advertising media such as Amazon PPC ads, video ads, email marketing, social ads, and display ads on the marketing campaign. It offers a great view of a customer's shopping journey, including detailed page views, purchases, and clicks, showing how the data can be utilized to optimize campaign ROI.
The Amazon Product Advertising API is open-ended, allowing users to develop flexible solutions to suit their aims and needs and allow for deeper integration with Amazon Advertising. The API displays most of the advertising console functionality while enabling developer’s management, allowing advertisers to manage marketing campaigns or several campaigns based on set conditions.
The Advertising API tool is robust for users to develop, manage and implement versioning and updates. This article desires to help you understand how to leverage it to meet your needs.
API users include but are not restricted to:
- Advertisers in charge of their ad spend, have internal programming and development resources, and directly manage many marketing campaigns for brands and products.
- Advertising consultants and solution providers who incorporate with the API and offer paid Amazon ad reporting and management tools to agencies and advertisers who lack the means and connectivity to integrate with the API directly
- Agencies that have internal programming and development resources and manage a high volume of Amazon PPC marketing campaigns for brands and products.
Product Affiliate Advertising
The first form, known as Product Advertising (PA API), is used to get programmatic access to retrieve Amazon product information on your website. Like link building using their SiteStripe feature, this API allows you to monetize your website with programmable ad types.
To use PA API, you are required to have programming skills. We will get into those programming skills in the next section. First, let's talk about how Amazon works with this system for selling partners.
For Selling Partners
The second form of API is the Selling Partner form (SP API). Like the PA API, the SP form is better for sellers who need programmatic access between features on their Amazon seller page.
This system allows developers to build applications for their seller pages, other pages, or public use on the Amazon Marketplace Appstore.
Amazon offers the majority of this report information through their Marketplace Web Service (MWS). The MWS Page provides reports on a variety of API sections.
When gathering information, Amazon allows you to develop applications that are responsive to data from these sections. For example, these seller features may track inventory information. But if the inventory isn't there, the prospective customer will not see this when looking at a page that contains an Amazon ad.
What are The Different Types of Reports Available Under Respective Ad Types?
You may expect reports based on the following API sections:
- Inbound shipment
- Outbound shipment
- Merchant fulfillment
- Off-Amazon payments
You can find this information on the MWS page, which also divides these different sections by region. API section regions include North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and China.
This information is beneficial to professional sellers but can also extend to functionality for affiliate programs. For those running an Amazon PPC campaign, this provides use for multiple types of clients. As you might expect, that means you can easily track the performance of various ad types.
Product Advertising API Features
With the Amazon Product Advertising API, Amazon has developed a world-class internet service that millions of customers use daily. As a programmer, you can build Product Advertising API apps that leverage this reliable, robust, and scalable tech. It allows for access to most of the data used by Amazon, including the product catalog, customer and seller reviews, and product promotions.
Product Advertising API operations allow for access to Amazon's databases allowing for the advantageous use of Amazon's sophisticated e-commerce data and Amazon PPC functionality. It also allows you to create your online store to sell both Amazon items or your items.
The Amazon Product Advertising API is free, but users must first sign up for the Amazon Associates program. By being a Product Advertising API developer, you join the elite group of thousands of developers who realize massive financial gains by creating Product Advertising API-run web stores and apps while utilizing Amazon PPC functionality. Below are the features of product advertising API;
- Easy integration: Out of the box, the SDKs are available in prevalent languages for easy connectivity and adoption. The SDKs removes the heavy lifting of signing the request, response de-serialization, and request serialization.
- Lighter, Slimmer, and Faster: the new update PA-API 5.0 is built from scratch to offer faster responses and uses resources over response groups used in earlier designs. The new PA-API 5.0 supports the lighter and slimmer JSON format over XML supported in earlier builds.
- Search Index: The search index feature specifies the category that a product a user will search for belongs. Search Index helps to narrow down search results and filter out unrelated products.
- Operation: this shows the functions the API tool can perform. The search functions include SimilarityLookup, ItemSearch, and ItemLookup. The tool also consists of the shopping cart options, such as CartAdd and CartCreate.
- Browse Nodes: this feature categorizes products to show product relationships (i.e., a root browse node is jeans, and parent browse nodes are women’s, children’s, and men’s).
- Better Customer Experience: PA-API 5.0 presents features consistent with Amazon retail-like PrimeExclusive eligibility, LanguageOfPreference compatibility, Multiple and intuitive Amazon seller rank information in the context of a particular BrowseNode.
- Associate Tag: Each Amazon affiliate has a distinct tag created for them. This tag then follows consumers who access Amazon from an affiliate’s app, blog, or website, allowing Amazon to utilize and recognize the traffic generated from an affiliate’s platform and pays a requisite commission.
- Keywords: This includes Keywords used to search for products and brands available on Amazon.
- Response Group: Ability to search for details related to specific products or brands. It has a default option that includes complete information on a product and can be adjusted to narrow down search results.
- AWS Access Key Id: This is an access key generated to call the API and sign the API request.
- Signature: the signature is used for verification purposes. It is a hash key created when a user signs a request for the API.
- Timestamp: This function indicates when a user initiates the API tool.
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WebSocket, RESTful, Lambda, and Programming Languages
The primary focus of the application programming interface is to program applications. When considering their gateway, these applications come in one of two forms:
- RESTful applications expose HTTP endpoints, Lambda functions, or other services on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- These also include active WebSocket APIs for AWS services, Lambda functions, and other AWS services.
For developers and sellers, these can be handy tools that can gather data from the above sources. You might expect that there is a lot of jargon from this very technical section. Below, we are going to define a few critical areas you need to know.
What is Lambda?
Lambda is a service of AWS that allows you to run code without managing servers. Through AWS, Lambda only charges when you make use of the code. For example, an inventory reduction may cause an event to occur, reducing the amount of advertising for said item.
This change is essential when determining the usefulness and effectiveness of advertising campaigns. If you have sponsored products or sponsored brands, control over how they appear through an automated code can mean the difference between happy and unhappy customers.
It would be best if you also understood the difference between REST and WebSocket.
What is REST?
Representational state transfer, otherwise known as REST, is a standard for web applications that use multiple web services. Programmers enjoy RESTful systems because of their quick performance and reliability.
The bulk of this speed comes from the transfer system's ability to reuse components. The system is also known to be responsive to communications but does not provide a continuously active connection. So if you, as a seller, are paying per data transfer, RESTful applications are known to save a lot of bandwidth and money.
What is WebSocket?
WebSocket API provides a continuous two-way connection between the browser of the shopper and the server. The browser-side makes a request out to the server, allowing that server to respond accordingly.
As you may expect, WebSocket is a lot more expensive to maintain because of the continuous connection. As a continuously active system, Amazon needs this to be as effective and responsive as it can be.
A great example of this is if someone used the Amazon API to create a chat system. The continuous connection sends signals to keep the connections between these two people alive. This system can be convenient when creating a customer relationship management system.
This system doesn't wait for a signal like RESTful APIs. Instead, WebSocket selects a route and travels down it. The route is sent between backend services and clients, allowing for efficient retrieval of data. One side can still close the connection, so it is only active as long as it is needed.
What Programming Languages Does Amazon API Have Support For?
Below are the different programming languages that they support:
This knowledge is essential for you because if you hire an agency with support for API development, they need to have someone on staff who has experience working with one of the above languages.
It would be best if you also were sure that the programmer is skilled on the platform that you want to target. For example, those who only know Go are skilled in Linux programming languages, including a small population.
How is Amazon API Different From Manually Downloaded Reports?
If we return to the sections listed above, all of them contain useful and actionable data. Many of these are all quantitative data (numbers) that you can quickly gather from Seller Central.
This data can be crucial in furthering your goals as a business. This data can be imperative to advertisers who will adjust their strategies depending upon what changes. Regardless of having an internal source of information or hiring an external marketing agency, this can be handy.
So what does Amazon's API service do differently from these reports?
The Amazon Advertising API and the manual downloads are both populated from the same data source. The data found in the manual downloads can also be found through the Amazon Advertising API. However, trying to find comparable manual report data in the Amazon Advertising API data is not straightforward, and you'll need to know where and how to track it down. It's best to start with a review of the reports currently available through the Seller Central and Vendor Central Advertising platforms to understand what you should be able to locate in the Amazon Advertising API data.
For Amazon Ads reporting, the benefits derived from using Amazon Advertising API data include:
- Ongoing data updates ensure that your reporting accurately reflects results as Amazon always restates its data set. If you're using a data set downloaded manually, Amazon has likely repeated the numbers since your last pull, and your reporting numbers are misstated.
- Your data is directly connected to your Amazon Ads reporting solution. This implies that your Amazon Ads reporting solution is automatically updated to reflect current results; simply refreshing the data connection page is all you require. Making use of the Amazon Advertising API data warehousing solution, instead of uploading the data, each visual points directly to the correct data for each client and ensures that your data displays correctly and accurately.
- You don't have to fret about pulling data for specific periods. The Amazon Advertising API provides data daily, ensuring that you can view the data in any time frame you want (i.e., daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). When using manual report download, you pull a new data set to obtain the previous day’s data. This would need to be done daily to get the correct numbers for budgeting and reporting purposes.
- Continuous data access does not need a team member to spend time pulling, formatting, preparing, and storing data.
- It makes the care of multiple brands scalable and manageable. It is noteworthy that manually downloaded reports require preparation and manipulation, and for those managing multiple brands, you'll need to add a client identification field to each data set. But with the API ads reporting mechanism, all you need do is implement a filter in your reporting solution to run through all your managed accounts with ready data available at your fingertips.
- Through the right development, a program that a developer creates can respond to this data. That response can be anything from taking down products from advertising to sending an automated response to your email. This automated response can be on anything, but it may come from an ad campaign's lack of functionality. This "ping" from the system may raise a discussion on what needs to be changed to make this useful.
How To Sign Up For Product Advertising API
Now that we know some vital information about the Amazon Product Advertising API, we can move onto the best methods you can use for signing up. Given that there are two forms, we can split this up into two different sections.
Signing Up For PA API
To sign up for PA API, you need to be aware of three different requirements:
- You need to have three qualifying amazon product sales in the past 180 days.
- You need to have an approved associate account.
- You need to comply with the associate's program Operating Agreement.
If you do not have approval for this form of API, you need to try their alternate option: SiteStripe.
SiteStripe is the early stage mode for affiliates who are at an early stage. Go onto any amazon page with your affiliate account logged in, and you can see it along the top.
You will need to start by creating an Amazon Associate's account. If you don't have one, you can create one easily from your chosen e-mail.
What types of reports are available under respective Ad types?
It would be thoughtless to mention reporting Amazon Advertising API data without mentioning Microsoft Excel as an option for client reporting. Although the presentation isn’t as polished as some of the other options, Excel remains a powerful tool that can be used to achieve a significant number of tasks, reporting included. For those just starting with client reporting or internal reporting and having a team member well-versed in using the MS Excel software, it may be the best option.
MS Excel for Amazon reporting
In order to use MS Excel for Amazon Ads reporting, you’ll need to link the storage database directly from Excel. This can be done using several ways depending on the database in use. One way is to connect directly to your advertising data warehouse using an MS Excel MySQL connector. This process allows you to view updated data in Excel that can be manipulated for Amazon Advertising. In order to complete the process for your managed clients, you will have to connect the reporting and visuals to the operations data that will be downloaded manually and stored either directly in the MS Excel reporting template being worked from or another database.
Working with MS Excel has its inherent limitations for live Amazon Ads reporting. You will be required to create separate documents for each client, and the report data will have to be updated for specific clients. This method can be time-consuming and represent an obstacle to scaling your business in several ways.
For organizations or set-ups with more technical proficiency, you might consider better reporting visualization solutions that will be easier for you to assess and manage. This includes tools such as Databox, Google Data Studio, or Klipfolio, among several others. The primary purpose of this set of providers is to process data from diverse sources. Operations data limitation will still be evident, and you may have to connect to an Access database or MS Excel workbook where the operations data is stored. The advantage of reporting visualization solutions is the quick start-up time, with an open link to the Amazon Advertising API data that will be automatically refreshed. Additionally, these tools are available with pre-built dashboards and visuals that you can take advantage of to present flawless reporting to your clients or team.
Above is the Google Data Studio homepage.
Using a 3rd party reporting solution requires being careful as some providers do not allow for connection to data sources for which they haven’t already built connectors. If it is difficult to host the data directly in the solution as you would using MS Excel or Google Data Studio, ensure you can connect to your sources through direct database connections or API calls, using your login credentials as access.
For big-time agencies or brands with in-house data analytics capacities, they’ll be able to use Amazon selling tools for analytics and Amazon Ads reporting that may be above the resources of those organizations without similar abilities. The data analytics platform is wide and varied, which results in designing solutions for all that caters to a few aspects. For that reason, agencies with the technical know-how and resources can build their analytics platform to address the analysis of Amazon Advertising API data especially for the purpose of Amazon Ads reporting. This option is more of a technical business intelligence solution being used for reporting with the advantage of having the analytical capacity to inform your discussions with stakeholders and clients.
We have seen the successful use of several platforms like Microsoft's Power BI, Tableau, and Looker to deliver top-notch reportage. The benefits of these types of solutions build on Option 2 benefits while also offering more powerful data combination, structuring, and analytics capabilities.
A word of caution on these tools, they can require high-level resources to maintain and master. The technical proficiency necessary to successfully leverage BI tools can be costly to train for or acquire. Typically, these solutions are reserved for larger organizations with more excellent resources or those heavy on data and technically oriented.
Signing Up For AWS
For sellers who want to enhance their advertising strategy, you need to sign up for the SP version through AWS. You can find this information by going to their website to find a large orange button in the upper right-hand corner.
Filling out their initial form comes with free tier access for the first year. This signup includes access to a variety of useful trial features.
Because AWS is a pay-as-you-go service, they will charge you standard service if you go over free tier limits. These are typically pennies per usage, but keep in mind that this service is best suited for advertisers who work on large-scale projects. The AWS pricing calculator will provide you with more details.
Given that AWS deals in large-scale operations, this calculator cautions you that their data comes from an estimate. Given the large amount of data behind these APIs, expect the number to be off by a bit.
Also, keep in mind that they have both professional and personal accounts. Personal accounts are best if you want to experiment with AWS services, an excellent start for people who want to check it out.
They also have three basic support plans for businesses or agencies at different stages of development:
- Basic: It has access to forums and resources.
- Developer: Email support with a 12-hour response time—best for testing and development of applications.
- Business: This support option is best for those who need assistance with a business-critical application. It has a 24-hour chat with phone and email support with an available one-hour response time.
Features of Both APIs
Features from Amazon's API come in two different forms. We will start by digging into the general PA API and compare that to the AWS features.
Amazon Product Advertising API Features
Their primary features include the following:
- It has Scratchpad, which allows you to submit requests to the API to test simple codes.
- It has various operations, allowing you to look up and utilize essential data with relative ease.
- Support for developers familiar with JSON, HTTP, and general web services.
- Support for those starting their eCommerce storefront.
Features Available Through Amazon AWS
For those focusing more on the advertising front, AWS has a wide variety of services, including the free tier we mentioned earlier to assist people in getting started.
Check out the features below:
- Access to more than 175 different services.
- Potential to save 70% of analytics utilize efficient REST and WebSocket applications.
- It has built-in support for storage, database platforms, machine learning, security, and mobile servicing under one platform.
- AWS training and certification for developers and programmers who want to utilize the platform.
- Transparent pricing available through their online calculator.
- It can share this information and have it managed by third-party agencies.
Anyone who works with Amazon's system as a seller or product advertiser may utilize the features through AWS. When it comes to advertisement, either can find use in the data available from Amazon's system.
Amazon's API services offer a tremendous amount of power for those who can use them. But these APIs and SDKs are best handled by someone who understands a bit about development. However, Amazon's AWS has simplified some of that process for the seller and the affiliate marketer. Combine that with DataHawk's own systems, and you have a great method of tracking a wide swath of actionable data.
- In order to see the broad spectrum of Amazon Advertising API Data, you should complement it with Operations data.
- Be hands-on in reporting. Know that recurring maintenance and support will be required for reporting, which should be pivotal when choosing a reporting tool.
- Do your research and understand the limitations of any potential reporting solutions before making a choice. Ensure that you can have access to the data you intend to report on.
- Amazon Product Advertising API helps get the best of your Amazon PPC set-up.
- For brands seeking reliable tools to enable success on Amazon, DataHawk provides Robust Analytics and Amazon Selling Tools for SEO, Product Intelligence, and Advertising.
When you sign up for these services, it is essential to have ample understanding. That's why you either need a trained internal advertiser who understands API or a third-party agency with the same level of experience. By reading this article, you will have an ample understanding of much of the terminology and systems used.