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Product Advertising API
Getting Started Guide (API Version 2013-08-01)

What Is Product Advertising API?

Amazon has developed a world-class web service that millions of customers use every day. As a developer, you can build Product Advertising API applications that leverage this robust, scalable, and reliable technology. You get access to a lot of the data used by Amazon including the items for sale, customer reviews, seller reviews, as well as most of the functionality you see on Amazon.com, such as finding items, displaying customer reviews, and product promotions. In short, Product Advertising API operations open the doors to Amazon's databases so that you can take advantage of Amazon's sophisticated e-commerce data and functionality. Build your own web store to sell Amazon items or your own items.

Best of all, Product Advertising API is free. By signing up to become a Product Advertising API developer, you join the tens of thousands of developers who are already realizing financial gains by creating Product Advertising API-driven applications and web stores.

This guide is divided into several major sections that allow you to practice using Product Advertising API in a simple environment. Each of the sections listed here builds on the previous sections, so that as you read and work through the examples in sequence, you gain a basic understanding of the Product Advertising API.

  • What is Product Advertising API?—The rest of this section describes the key concepts of Product Advertising API, the knowledge required to use it, and related resources that you can use to interact with the service.

  • Getting Started—The Getting Started section describes how to become an Amazon Associate and get the identifiers you need to submit requests.

After you've read the Getting Started section, you’ll want to learn more about Product Advertising API operations. The following sections provide detailed information about working with Product Advertising API requests and responses:

  • Making a Request—The Making a Request section describes how to send a simple Product Advertising API request in multiple programming languages.

  • Processing Responses—The Processing Responses section describes how to parse the response to your request.

Key Concepts

Narrowing search results with response groups—The ItemSearch function can take a variety of parameters that help narrow the list of items to only those that match the customer's expectations. Response groups are included in requests either by default or explicitly. Response groups select from all of the item data returned to determine which data to display. For example, the Offer response group returns information about an item's offer, which is the price and availability.

Narrowing search results with request parameters—Search indices are used to restrict a request to a certain portion of Amazon's database. The database, called the catalog, contains millions of items. Returning 100,000 items is not useful to the customer. So, request parameters, including the search index, are used to narrow the results to make them match the customer's expectation. For example, a Harry Potter book and the DVD of that book reside in different search indices. By specifying the search index, you return the information relevant to the customer's interest.

Structured requests and responses—Requests are structured. Each has an endpoint, which is the URL of the Product Advertising API, webservices.amazon.com. By default, responses are returned in XML, which makes parsing the response easier.

Making REST requests to search for items—One of the first and most common tasks customers undertake is searching for items to buy. Customers enter search parameters for items they are looking for, such as a book title or an article of clothing. This guide shows how to make a REST request in multiple computer languages that searches through Amazon's catalog of items and selects those that are related to the keywords entered on the command line. The response processing code assumes the items returned are books. The response is parsed so that the title, author, and price of the item are displayed.

Required Knowledge and Skills

This guide assumes that you are familiar with XML syntax and structure and that you have a basic understanding of web services. For overviews of these topics, go to the following links:

In addition, you must be familiar with one of these programming languages: Java, C#, PHP, and Perl.

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