Sunday, November 13, 2011

Changing the tracking ID for an Amazon Associates widget

You can change the tracking ID for an Amazon associates widget, even after the widget is created and in use on your site.

Tracking Amazon widget performance

Widgets (aka gadgets) from Amazon Associates can be used to display certain content from Amazon on your blog / website.   Some of them are fixed format, while others (eg the MP3 widget) let you select a range of items from Amazon's stock to display.

In two of my blogsites, I use Amazon MP3 widgets to include snippets of songs that my readers might be interested in, without breaking any copyright laws.

If Amazon sells more than one version of a song, then I put in quite a bit of time choosing which specific version to include, so that a variety of styles are shown - this makes it more likely that my readers will see something that they like. Because there are two sites, I set up two tracking-ids within my Amazon Associates account, one for each site, and use these to know how many of my Amazon visitors have come from each site.  This will let me analyse the performance of each site as they grow.

Problem: assigning the tracking ID

When you create a new widget on Amazon, the tracking ID that is assigned to the widget is the one that is selected when you start the widget-creation process. There is no way to change the tracking ID part way through the process. Changing it on the left sidebar resets the widget-creation process back to the beginning, so you have to start again.  This isn't much of a problem if you're just getting the Amazon code for a simple gadget with no selection or maybe a context sensitive one.  But it's extremely frustrating if you've spent 15 mintues carefully choosing exactly which versions to a song to include.

How to edit the tracking ID after the widget is created

Recently I discovered that it is possible to change the tracking-id, and other features too, after the widget has been created.   To do this: 1  Log in to Amazon  (either .com, or whichever one you are working with) and go into the Associates section 2  Choose Widgets from the top menu.  This changes the contents of the left-sidebar to show items relating to widgets. 3  Choose My Widgets.  This opens a screen where you can change of the details of the widget, including the name and the tracking ID - and has a button that you can use to Edit the widget contents, and one where you can get the the code for the widget. 4  Choose the item(s) that you want to update, change them 5  Save the change.
There is no need to change the code that is on your blog or website:  the tracking ID, name, etc are stored in Amazon, not in the code.

What you and your readers see

The tracking ID has no effect of what your reader see - unless they're beign particularly eagle-eyed when they look at the URL that is generated when they click on the widget. But it means that when someone visits Amazon, as a result of clicking on the play or buy buttons, the visit and the credit for any qualifiying purchased that they make are given to you using the tracking-ID that you chose.

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