Coding For Online Success

Understanding the Amazon Product Advertising API


I’ve been working on some Amazon store fronts. With the recent chatter about the EPN Quality Click Pricing, I thought it would be good to focus on a few other sites while the dust settles. I have confidence that everything with EPN will work out, but this is a good reminder that one should stay diversified.

I’m basically working on a few things. The first priority was to get my existing sites working after the signed authentication change which happened on August 15th. The next priority was to find a new blog plugin that would handle Amazon products nicely. I found ReviewAzon, which fits my needs perfectly for posting products, but I needed a good ‘store front’ script or way to include this with my ReviewAzon sites.

I found Amazon Niche Store, which is free, and it looks similar to my various store fronts, but I wasn’t happy about the results being returned from the author’s server. So I figured I need to modify the plugin and do the lookup and presentation on my own. The author also displayed his tracking code 10% of the time (which he states). This was a fun project, since I’ve never worked on a plugin and it seems lately I’ve been doing a lot of WordPress stuff.

I wanted to state that finding good documentation about the Amazon AWS or Product Advertising API is somewhat difficult (not sure why), but since I found the proper docs, I wanted to post them here. The Product Advertising API Developer Guide is must have link if you’re going to be doing any work with the API, it gives you a complete run down of the Operations needed to ask the appropriate questions to Amazon and return products.

I was able to rewrite that plugin and include it within my ReviewAzon sites by creating a category ‘stores’ within the blogs. One immediate challenge I had with that plugin re-write was the ability of returning more than 10 products, which appears to be a very common problem. My solution, and not sure if it’s the best, is to loop through the requests to get multiple pages and adding them to a array. To save on additional calls I serialized the array and stored it in the WP options table based on keyword searched with a timestamp. If the timestamp is expired, it will do another lookup, etc.

If any of you have dealt with this in the past and has a better solution, please let me know!


  1. I’ve been trying to work with the product advertising api but it seems impossible to find any good tutorials or examples. I don’t understand how soap and php works. How did u go about learning it your first time?

  2. Hello ‘Mr. How To’, that’s a hard question to answer. Basically, I would start with some basic PHP (tutorials, simple database calls) and understand how that ‘renders’ HTML to the browser. Once you have semi-under-your-belt, I would then look into web services. Basically, the concept is quite simple. You create a ‘request’ and send that request to a service (ie: AWS) and that service would perform the lookups on their end and return you a ‘response’. Both the request and response would be in a XML format. You then would parse the response and display it as HTML.

    I know this can be overwhelming to many people, but it’s the same as me asking someone that I want to build a car, but have no idea what car even does. You need to break it down into digestible chunks and move on from that point. But I would recommend the basics of using a database and rending ‘output’ to the browser. That’s the best place to start and is a good foundation. That is the core of all content management and product display systems out there.

    Hope this helps a little.

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