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I’ve had this idea

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2001

I’ve had this idea for a long while about how Amazon could help people better utilize their Associates Program. Basically, Amazon would provide some JavaScript code that would automatically include the NYTimes Bestseller list, the Hot DVD list, the Music Top Sellers list, or the Video Games New Releases list on an Associate’s site. Because the code would reside on the Amazon site, the contents of these lists would update automatically and consistently…equivalent to putting a Moreover webfeed on your site. I was even toying with the idea of scraping the Amazon site for content and setting up something like this myself…it would have been pretty easy to do and seemed like a no-brainer that people would love to put those kinds of lists on their sites.

Amazon’s just-announced Amazon Recommends service is just that…and a little bit more. Instead of including the lists I mentioned above (which I still think they should do), they analyze the purchasing patterns of the people buying things using your Associates code and then use the JavaScript code to push recommendations based on those buying patterns (you can see my Amazon Recommends list to the right). It’s clever…and a good start.

Some drawbacks of AmRec:

- They overbranded it. These people are already making them money for God sakes. Come on.

- The look and feel is not flexible at all. They could have put the links and titles into a JS array and left it up to the interested JavaScript coder (that’s me!) to code the HTML output however they wished.

- Again, they should provide more than the one list. The recommended stuff is great, but some may want the canned lists of popular items.