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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    AJAX for Affiliate Marketing
    Since the topic hasn't come up, I thought I'd start a discussion about AJAX. Seems to be one of the latest cool, new things this year and it's going to become essential in future web development. Basically what it does is it allows you to change a portion of your page when somebody clicks a link or begins to type in a search or input box. Google uses it extensively for AdSense, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Suggest. It's very useful and really has some great practical uses.

    Some ideas that come to mind for affiliate sites is browser width detection. You can use Javascript to detect the width of a visitor's browser in order to show larger ads or layouts. Another idea is to suggest keyword searches as they're typing in your search box (like Google Suggest).

    Here are some very helpful links that explain AJAX and how to implement it:

    http://www.adaptivepath.com/publicat...ves/000385.php

    http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs...etting_Started

    http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=php-...8633625636&w=2

    AJAX is considered a Web 2.0 technology and is gaining popularity fast, so the sooner you learn about it the better.

    Enjoy!
    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    It is neat and cool -just like Flash. And it has it's place - just like Flash. But I would not say to hop on the bandwagon and learn it now. Learn it if you need it - just like any technology. Remember technology is a tool that we use. We control it, not the other way around.

    Used in the right time and the right place AJAX does do some cool things.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    It is neat and cool -just like Flash. And it has it's place - just like Flash. But I would not say to hop on the bandwagon and learn it now. Learn it if you need it - just like any technology. Remember technology is a tool that we use. We control it, not the other way around.

    Used in the right time and the right place AJAX does do some cool things.
    I wouldn't say it's just like Flash. In fact, many of the pros to AJAX aren't evident in Flash. For example using AJAX techniques can make your pages load much faster and respond much more readily to user inputs. Flash has a tendency to create longer load times. I can't see Flash being completely necessary in web development any time soon, but it's a different story for AJAX development. As people become more familiar with it's implementations and uses, they'll start to seek out sites that use it. It's still very new, so this won't be happening any time soon. But it's still a great idea to become familiar with it and keep your eye open for new unique ways to implement it. I've already found some very handy ways to use it that improve the user experience by a great deal.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    I was not intending to imply that the technologies did the same thing. I was meaning to say that they are both features of the web browser experience that have their place. If you are in the entertainment or artistic industry Flash is quite common. My guess is they don't have a real need for AJAX so you won't see it too much there.

    Not to mention doing what AJAX does is not new - it's just been given a fancy acronym. The technology that does it has been around for awhile. There is no new plugin or new technology involved. It is a way of handling information and getting it back to the user in a timely fashion. Like all technology it can be abused and overused. Be careful about page bloat. As neat as it is you will increase your page size with alot more javascript.

    Some handy tips to keep your AJAX development in check:
    http://sourcelabs.com/ajb/archives/2..._mistakes.html

    I am interested to see what sort of interactive shopping sites come out of AJAX. Like you said it can make for a better user experience.

  5. #5
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    Gap.com
    Check out the new GAP.com they are using it extensively for a shopping site example.

  6. #6
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    My first thought (which is still wandering around in my head) for using AJAX for affiliate stuff, was to use it to implement an affiliate-side shopping cart. You use ajax calls to put the items in the merchant-side cart and then read out the cart contents to display on the affiliate site. Then you only send them to the merchant when it is time to check-out (if then!).

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

    Hosting Comparison - HostScope - jrrl.com

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    Sounds interesting and difficult at the same time.

    So you'd start and maintain a merchant shopping for them in the background that would sync up to the shopping cart on your site? I am wondering how you would manage the sessions. When someone comes to your site they get a session ID and that is how the site knows the cart belongs to a particular person. The merchant shopping cart will also have a session ID associated with the IP address of your server. It sounds like you then want the user to take over your merchant session when they are ready to checkout.

    Am I on the correct train of thought or am I on a different set of tracks?

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrrl
    My first thought (which is still wandering around in my head) for using AJAX for affiliate stuff, was to use it to implement an affiliate-side shopping cart. You use ajax calls to put the items in the merchant-side cart and then read out the cart contents to display on the affiliate site. Then you only send them to the merchant when it is time to check-out (if then!).

    -John.
    If you can get this to work, you'd have to write a different program for each merchant which would be a real hassle. Also, I don't think you need to use AJAX techniques to implement something like this. Come to think of it, it may not even be possible to do with Javascript.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    I'd have to agree. AJAX (and let's just say JavaScript because that is all it is) is probably very good for caching information between a browser and a server. However it is probably not the right technology for trying to emulate a browser. Essentially that is what you are trying to do: Write some Javascript code to emulate the actions of a web browser while some other Javascript code interacts with the real browser.

    It shows you are thinking creatively though!

  10. #10
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    I'd have to agree. AJAX (and let's just say JavaScript because that is all it is) is probably very good for caching information between a browser and a server. However it is probably not the right technology for trying to emulate a browser. Essentially that is what you are trying to do: Write some Javascript code to emulate the actions of a web browser while some other Javascript code interacts with the real browser.

    It shows you are thinking creatively though!
    Ah, but here is why I think JavaScript is exactly the right technology for doing a transparent cart. The JS is execute on the customer's machine, inside their browser, so the connections to the merchant will be coming from the customer. This should even set merchant cookies on the customer's browser. Given this, when you pass the customer off to the merchant, the cookies should take them to the cart that you were managing for them.

    All that said, YES, you would have to customize things for each merchant, although you might be able to parameterize some of it. Basically, you would have a general JS solution with parameters to tell you what fields you need, what they need to be called, what URLs to send them to, etc. It's work, but it should be doable.

    Of course, I have tested none of this. If anyone tries it, I would love to hear your results.

    Oh, and to be REALLY pedantic, we should say ECMAScript (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECMAScript).

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

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  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    How are you going to manager the session that is started between your server and the merchants server? The cookie one thing, but when you connect to another server it starts a session in memory and the session is related back to originating computer. For it work strictly off of cooking the merchant would have to store NOTHING in session variables and store EVERYTHING in cookies. Being a web developer I was pretty sure that is a rare occourence. But with all of the different shopping cart software out there... who knows!

  12. #12
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    How are you going to manager the session that is started between your server and the merchants server? The cookie one thing, but when you connect to another server it starts a session in memory and the session is related back to originating computer. For it work strictly off of cooking the merchant would have to store NOTHING in session variables and store EVERYTHING in cookies. Being a web developer I was pretty sure that is a rare occourence. But with all of the different shopping cart software out there... who knows!
    Okay, let me start over, as I am clearly explaining this, um, unclearly.

    Manage NOTHING on the affiliate's server. Use JS to add things to the customer's cart at the merchant, to display the contents of their cart at the merchant, and, if the planets align correctly, to hand them off to the merchant for payment and a juicy commission. The only session is between the merchant and the customer, but it is being mediated or proxied by JS that you control. The result is that they only see your site until maybe the end, but they are interacting with the merchant's site for all the magically shopping cart, tax and shipping calculation, etc.

    Does that make any sense? Might not... it's been a long and not terribly profitable day.

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

    Hosting Comparison - HostScope - jrrl.com

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Some interesting ideas jrrl, but this really won't be useful to the customer unless you can provide a shopping interface that's better than the merchant's.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    alright.. so here you go. AJAX + GreaseMonkey + Affiliate Marketing = BookBurro: http://overstimulate.com/articles/20...nd-cheap-books

    Technology wise its a pretty interesting thing. But talk about ethics and parasites, and it becomes a very borderline case.

    Those who don't know what greasemonkey is.. check out http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/

    cheers!
    -nishith

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Very interesting tool nish. Definitely a borderline case. I really don't know what to think of it. It's not a traditional AJAX tool, so it gets innovation points. At least it won't be forced onto unknowing surfers' PCs.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    yup.. a very interesting tool. My feeling is that (whether we like it or not) we will see more & more of such tools. When IE7 arrives (and if it has the kinds of hooks like firefox extensions), these have the potential to bring an end to shopping search/comparison sites as we know them now.

    With all these web2.0 stuff happening all around, it might be a wise thing for an affiliate to pay close attention & to understand how the web is evolving. Listen to podcasts, experiment with ajax, rss etc, understand the buzz behind del.icio.us, flickr, digg, feedster, backpack, housingmaps, 43things/43places etc etc.

    Times are changing..

    enjoy!
    -nishith

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    With all these web2.0 stuff happening all around, it might be a wise thing for an affiliate to pay close attention & to understand how the web is evolving. Listen to podcasts, experiment with ajax, rss etc, understand the buzz behind del.icio.us, flickr, digg, feedster, backpack, housingmaps, 43things/43places etc etc.

    Times are changing..
    I agree 110%. The internet is truly experiencing a revolution and the way we view websites will be substantially different. I've started threads on ABW about Web 2.0, Tagging and Folksonomy and only received a limited response, so it goes to show that ABW is not ready to advance. That's a real shame for those who aren't ready to embrace this new technology, but this is a competition and those who evolve will come out on top.

    I've found del.icio.us to be an invaluable resource and am sometimes searching there instead of Google now. That just shows how powerful this new style of technology is becoming. Tags are one of the most important aspects of all the Web 2.0 facets. AJAX and RSS more or less complete the circle. Get to know this technology well because it's having a strong influence on how websites function.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

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