Update 23 January

Amazon Announces PA API 4 to 5 Upgrade Date

It looks like a final cutover date is going to be 9 March …

We would like to inform you that all of your applications making calls to Amazon’s Product Advertising API version 4.0 (PA API 4.0) will need to upgrade to Amazon’s Product Advertising API version 5.0 (PA API 5.0) by March 9, 2020.

Update 07 November

Amazon Delays PA API 4 to 5 Mandatory Upgrade

Well, the Amazon world didn’t come to an end on 31 October when the Product Advertising API V 4 was deprecated. I was a bit surprised by no issues on my radar. After doing some quick checking it was clear that the switchover to version 5 did not happen.

Amazon has decided to extend the version 4 support. Unfortunately, they did not make a public announcement but did let some large partners know with the condition of non-disclosure.

A little G2 yielded this photo from an Amazon presentation in Munich. It seems that Amazon has decided to get over the holiday period and do the changeover to version 5 on 14 January. That would be some nice breathing room for developers.

Amazon upgrade to PA API 5 postponed

Amazon announced a new major version of the PA-API. Version 4 will be deprecated. Any plugin, theme or other software that was accessing PA-API 4 will not work when Version 5 is switched over. There will not be any backward compatibility.

The timing of the update, limited  notification period, and lack of any parallel support is disappointing.  For commercial software vendors, the timing is right after they restricted API access. So Amazon removed many of our prospects when they woke up one day and announced that new affiliates will no longer have api access, and that affiliates without consistent sales will be throttled. A large part of the market was from new affiliates building new sites. So take away prospects and then give 6 weeks to overhaul your software for the new api. Welcome to Amazon developer land.

There even may be some surprises on 31 October when the switch-over happens. Amazon has not done a very good job of early notification and the upgrade is a big job. I expect the new api will remove some products from the marketplace.  I already noticed that the Product in a Post plugin will be end-of-life based on these factors  …

“At this time we have no plans to update the plugin compatibility due to the complexity of the PA API approval process. Due to the changes implemented by Amazon and the recent rate request limitations, the plugin has become too difficult for even an above average user to easily use – and as such, we will no longer be supporting the plugin or making future updates.” – Don Fischer

For affiliate using the api via a plugin you may have to make api key or site changes.

PA-API 5 Requirements for Affiliates

All sites must be HTTPS: so you need an SSL certificate. You really should do this anyway for SEO and conversion purposes. Most hosts now have free SSL even the Let’s Encrypt type ones are fine for this.

For many users there is nothing they need to do with their keys.

If your Product Advertising keys were issued after 30 September 2017 you need to do nothing with keys. Just make sure your site is SSL (https)

If you are not sure about your key issue date you can check by using Amazon’s PA APi Scratchpad. If your keys were issued before September 30, 2017 than you need to get new keys.This is done in a different manor than you did in the past with AWS. To get new keys …

Getting PA-API 5 Keys

  • Login to your Associates account
  • Go to the Tools menu
  • Select Product Advertising API
  • Select ‘Manage Your Credentials’
  • Select the Migrate button
  • Select continue from the popup
  • Download your new keys

That’s it. Now your keys will work with PA-API 5 or PA-API 4. Though PA-API 4 will be deprecated on 31 October (though I do hear rumblings of an extension)

From a developers viewpoint the update from PA- API 4 to PA-API 5 will require a major overhaul.

PA-API 5 Requirements for Developer

Amazon has created a guide for developers to migrate their code. There is also a third party free PHP library that might be useful to you. The new API is radically different in many fundamental ways. Definitely an improvement but the migration will take quite a bit of time and resources for most. Amazon suggests most applications will take 3-4 weeks. We have been working on the update for Prosociate and this seems about right when you consider, planning, coding, and testing.

The major changes include …

  • Applications now must use https: and json. So now it is HTTPS-POST/JSON-RPC vs. the old method of HTTP(s)-GET/REST,SOAP.
  • Credentials are now signed with  signature version 4 signing process vs. signature version 2.
  • Some function/method changes related to variations and other areas have changed.

New features of the API include:

  • LanguageOfPreference compatibility,
  • PrimeExclusive eligibility,
  • New sales rank information in context of a particular BrowseNode

Wrapping Up

Things change quickly at Amazon. The new API will definitely be more secure, have more features and perform better. I do wish they had run the systems in parallel or provided more time, but they are Amazon and get to make the rules. It will be interesting to see how many products do not get upgraded given the smaller market and large technical scope of migrating to PA-API 5.