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Last week we explained the advantages of getting your data through the Amazon Advertising API versus manual report downloads. This week, in our Amazon Agency Bi-Weekly, we break down what data lives within the Amazon Advertising API so you know exactly what to expect when you first connect. I’ll be speaking on this topic and more at Boulder Startup Week on May 16th — check out the session details here.
How is the Amazon Adverting API data different from the manually downloaded reports?
According to our Amazon contacts, the Amazon Advertising API and the manual downloads are both populated from the same data source. As such, the data that can be 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 the 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 gain an understanding of what you should be able to locate in the Amazon Advertising API data. The following are the reports currently available in the Amazon platform for each respective ad type.
Sponsored Product Manual Reports:
Sponsored Brand Manual Reports:
Before we jump to what’s available in the Amazon Advertising API, it’s important to understand that Sponsored Product data is more robust than Sponsored Brand data, with the main difference being the missing Search Term and ASIN level data in Sponsored Brand reporting. If you’ve worked with Amazon’s ad data you already know this, but to understand what you’re looking at coming out of the Amazon Advertising API, a knowledge of the difference between the two respective ad type data sets is critical for effective usage.
How does the Amazon Advertising API data map to the manual report downloads?
The Amazon Adverting API makes the following reports available for each respective ad type.
Sponsored Product API Reports:
Sponsored Brand API Reports:
At first glance you may say, “well these reports look nothing alike at all,” and you would not be wrong in the least. If you were expecting a one to one mapping, I’m sorry to disappoint you. The deeper you dig into Amazon, the greater you appreciate its complexity, and the Amazon Advertising API is no different.
To reiterate from our previous article, the Amazon Advertising API has ALL of the data that is available in the manual reports. However, we could spend an entire whitepaper’s worth of words to describe exactly how the API data needs to be structured, combined, and manipulated to map back to the manual reports. Fortunately, we at Dash Applications have already done that heavy lifting, and created a product that allows Brands and Agencies to use the API data right out of the box.
But even with all our work to simplify the solution, that doesn’t mean we haven’t fielded our fair share of questions. Here a few that have come up with our clients in the onboarding process:
Where is the Search Term data in the Amazon Advertising API?
If you noticed that ‘Search Term’ is not listed under the API reports, you’re not alone. Search Term data is one of the most critical inputs in understanding, managing, and optimizing Advertising performance. Search Term reports are the backbone for any Brand or Agency worth their salt in the Amazon Advertising game, and fortunately it does live on in the Advertising API. To put it simply, it’s housed within the Keyword Report. So, not to worry, you will be able to drill down to the all-important customer search term information that is so crucial to understanding traffic patterns on the platform.
But wait, Sponsored Brands also have a Keyword Report through the Amazon Adverting API. Does that mean Search Terms are now available for Sponsored Brands?
Unfortunately, no. The same limitations in the manual reports for Sponsored Brands carry over to the Advertising API. It’s possible that Amazon will address the disconnect in future releases. For example, Amazon just pushed an update to enable ‘negations’ for Sponsored Brand campaigns. One would think that having visibility directly into the customer queries would be necessary to make full use of that functionality, but for the time being Keyword level data is the lowest grain available for Sponsored Brands.
Does the Amazon Advertising API offer any additional data?
Yes, and we anticipate more to come. For those familiar with Amazon Advertising data, you are already aware of some of the inconsistencies across Advertising units and may be questioning how Amazon is managing the integration of data sets. For example, Seller Central Sponsored Product Campaigns contain Ad Groups, while Sponsored Brand Campaigns do not. Additionally, Sponsored Brands operate with a 14-day sales attribution window across both Seller and Vendor Central, as opposed to Sponsored Products having a 7-day sales attribution window on Seller Central, and 14-day window on Vendor Central. Where did these inconsistencies originate and how will Amazon handle them moving forward?
The answer lies in the historical segmentation of the Vendor and Seller platforms. Sponsored Brands, formerly known as Headline Campaigns, originated as a Vendor Central only Advertising Unit. Once Sponsored Brand ads were made available through Seller Central, the legacy ‘structure’ of the ad type remained. With the latest updates to the Advertising API, we’re seeing Amazon’s efforts toward unifying their Advertising platforms first hand (an extension of ‘Amazon One Vendor’ perhaps?). In other words, there’s a placeholder already available for Sponsored Brand Ad Groups. And as for the Sales Attribution Windows, there’s already 1-day, 7-day, 14-day, and 30-day available for Sponsored Products through the Amazon Advertising API. How long before Sponsored Brands are given the similar treatment? Who knows, but for now there’s just the 14-day window.
Can I pull the Amazon Advertising API data myself?
Certainly. Amazon Advertising API access is technically ‘free’, and for those with deep knowledge of Amazon Advertising Data and sufficient technical capabilities, it’s certainly possible.
Before you start down the path of pulling your own data from the Amazon Advertising API, I want to give you a sense of the hoops you will be forced to jump through. First, you’ll need to register an ‘application’ with Amazon, gain access to the API, understand the intricacies and limitations of the API calls and returns, and then develop the Data Warehouse schema to house the breadth of data available.
On an ongoing basis, you will also need to plan for continuous quality assurance of the data, manage an ongoing refresh schedule to account for restatements and attribution updates, and have the protocols in place to be prepared for the inevitable ‘server busy’ errors that are par for the course.
You’ll also want to plan for Amazon to continually push updates that will require ongoing support from your development team to maintain and update the entirety of the product. Don’t forget that you’re going to have to pay that development team market salaries in order to build and service the warehouse solution. And lastly, plan for ongoing server costs to process and store your advertising data, with requirements varying based on the scale and needs of your business.
And one more thing to be aware of as Amazon gets serious about making their APIs the preferred source of data for Brands and Agencies; Amazon is tightening up its monitoring of the Amazon Advertising API users. A ‘scoring system’ is currently under development to ensure API users are following Amazon’s Advertising API terms and conditions, and that Amazon is seeing a return on their investment in the nature of adequate Advertising Spend to justify the tax on their internal servers and resources.
So, as it is certainly possible pull the Amazon Advertising API data for yourself, it’s not an endeavor to be taken lightly. We at Dash Applications have been working for the past several years to develop this solution in support of our upcoming Amazon Analytics platform. It’s with this perspective that we recommend working with a data provider who is able to spread those costs across a broader set of clients. If you’re in the market for your Amazon data, I’m happy to discuss how we can support your needs.
What’s in the Amazon Advertising API? — The Takeaways
Want to learn more? Check us out at www.dashapplications.com.
sam hager | president dash / AMAZON
an amazon advertising expert, sam is on the forefront of ecommerce evolution and leads thought for agencies and brands looking to crack the digital commerce code.