Hopefully you have downloaded Associate-O-Matic and CaRP. PLease note both have free and limited versions. Your next step depends entirely if you are setting up a stand alone site or as a adjunct to an existing site. As I have noted before Associate-O-Matic is a powerful tool but it’s initial design was as an adjunct to an existing site.
The default installation of Associate-O-Matic is shop.php which works will with an existing site. If you want a stand-alone site like Best Buys Zone UK you need to make some changes to a few files. Let’s assume you are going to add this shopping comparison engine to an existing site.
The instructions for installing a fresh Associate-0-Matic installation. The instuctions are pretty clear. If you want your mashup to point to the root of your html directory, there are a couple of approaches that work that can be found on the Associate-O-Matic forum You can also open the aom.php file and the shop.php and edit the portion of the file $codelock_file=”shop.php” to $codelock_file=”index.php”. Please note this file needs to opened using a true text editor such as Textpad or Windows notepad. Do not use Wordpad to edit these files.
After installing Associate-O-Matic and testing the installation. You should install CaRP. The installation instructions are found in the CaRP online manual. Please note CaRP has all sorts of utility outside the context of the comparison shopping mashup we are building. You can use RSS feeds within the context of your web site or blog for updated content or even use Ebay feeds with them for an additional revenue source. Remember, note the location and the path to the CaRP installation. CaRP will tell you when you install it, running the carpsetup.php in your browser. You will need that location for the next step.
Once you have Associate-O-Matic installed, spend some time playing with it. You will find a tremendous amount of customization is available. One area you should pay particular attention to the custom boxes of Associate-O-Matic. Associate-O-Matic allow you to add multiple custom boxes in various locations. Each location can have multiple boxes associated with it, each containing HTML or calling an external program. You can set the order of each box in the location by using the order pulldown in the administration area. You can see that on Best Buys Zone UK on the page for this Denby White Teapot After the “Buy” button I have added a social networking link and the matching product results from Ebay.co.uk. These technically are in the same location with the order being set by the order pulldown.
Please note the various locations that Associate-O-Matic can execute code or place external ads such as Auction Ads, Ebay RSS feeds, blog product feeds and any RSS based content.
These are where you can integrate outside content and programs into the skeletal framework of Associate-O-Matic. I like to look at Associate-O-Matic as the skeletal framework while the outside content is the muscle of the site. The Amazon content is heavily syndicated and duplicated so I try to minize the total amount of Amazon content and rely on uniqe combinations of other content. Like KFC I try to mix common herbs and spices into something unique. You can add news, blogging content, search results – any RSS based feeds can be included.
Customize Meta Content
Customize the meta content of your associate-o-matic installation. The default installation has the store name on every page. You will want to change that. You will also want to change the page title to the item name for the item page. This will be the value we will be passing to the external programs and data sources for the most part.
Location, Location, Location
Location is everything in retail and it’s the same thing on your website. For Best Buys Zone UK I decided that the Shopping.com widgets would be above and to the right of the product. This was largely dictated by the fact that shopping.com has three widget sizes; 768×90 and two skyscraper sizes (120×600, 160×600). I decided to use CaRP and Ebay feeds to match products in the I3 position. Looking at the image above you can see the various locations where content can be displayed.
Associate -0-Matic Variables
Warning: Programming type stuff. The key to making this working is using the Associate-0-Matic variables to generate outside content. Associate-O-Matic stores it variables in an array called $page. You can create a simple one line php file with this in it.
<?php print_r($page); ?>
Save the file as tester.php or something similar. Then upload it to your hosting account in the same directory as shop.php. You can then call out this script in a custom box in the associate-o-matic admin screen. Simply put the name of the scipt in the box and and set the file type to html/php. I would set the location to the bp (bottom page). Save your settings and look at your site. Every page will print what Associate-O-Matic variables as associated with it at the location you specify. This is effectively a debug message and will let you know what you can use. Once you have the variables that you need, you can turn off display of this element.
But Brian you said no programming! I don’t want to do this. Well if you don’t want to do this you don’t have to. I included the instructions just so you can experiment if want. Ok here’s the basic code for including ebay auctions in your associate-o-matic site. Here is the CaRP code for bestbuyszone.co.uk. You can customize this if you want. Remember what I posted about using Ebay Feeds to monetize blogspot blogs? You use the Ebay RSS generator in exactly the same way.
Couple of changes you need to make on your code. You need to add your RSS feed from the Ebay RSS Generator. You will add your feed up to the single quote you see in the code above. We are then using the $Page[Title] for what we are passing to Ebay. Please note for this to work you need to set the page title in the administration area to the product name. Once that is done you will are passing the product name to Ebay and getting results back and displaying them in CaRP on the page. Congrats you have just include Ebay auctions in your site.
Including Shopping.com Results
It’s even easier. Login to your shopping.com partner area and build a widget for your site. You will simply pass the keyword in real time to shopping.com. Here’s my widget on Best Buys Zone UK
<script src="http://img.shopping.com/sc/pac/shopwidget_v1.0_proxy.js"> </script>
// Bestbuyszone UK
var sw = new ShopWidget();
sw.mode = "kw";
sw.width = 120;
sw.height = 600;
sw.linkColor = "#0033cc";
sw.borderColor = "#ffffff";
sw.fontColor = "#000000";
sw.font = "arial";
sw.linkin = "8014587";
sw.categoryId = "0";
sw.keyword = "<? print ($page['Title'])?>";
In short you are putting this in the keyword field
<? print ($page['Title'])?>
Which since you have set the item page title to the product name should produce the best results. In the next post I cover other elements to include, customizing Ebay feeds and other elements.
Posts in this series.
How to build an cool shopping application. No programming required. Part One.
How to build an cool shopping application. No programming required. Part Two.
How to build an cool shopping application. No programming required. Part Three
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