The Secret Key of Amazon Revisited

The Secret Key of Amazon Revisited

Several months ago, Amazon began to implement changes in how the two required AWS keys (public and private) are obtained. We’re going to take another look at one of the most popular topics ever covered in this blog, so that new users won’t get overly confused by out-of-date or conflicting information. A new video may also eventually follow suit.

There are two ways to get to the place where the AWS keys may be found. One is via the Amazon Associates Central Home Page. Click the blue Product Advertising API tab at the top of the page:

Product Advertising API tab

On the next page, under Resources, click Manage Your Account:

Resources > Manage Your Account

On the third page, click on Click here:

Click here!

This takes you to the AWS Sign In/Log In page:

AWS Sign In or Log In page

You can also access this page by going to and selecting the Sign Up button at the top (this is the second method BTW, instead of going through your associates page). If you are a new user, you may have to create an AWS account. You should be able to use the same login information you used for the Amazon Associates Central Home Page. Note that at any point if you are asked for payment information, you’ve probably taken a wrong turn somewhere. Back up until you think you can find where you might have made a misstep. You should not have to pay for AWS access.

Either way, once you are logged into Amazon Web Services, you should see a page that looks like this:

AWS Access Credentials

At the bottom of this page, under Access Keys, you can see your current AWS keys. Your public key will be shown as ‘Access Key ID’ (blurred out above), and the private key can be seen by clicking on the Show link under ‘Secret Access Key’. Note that you can have two set of keys active at any time. You can deactivate a set of keys by clicking on the Make Inactive link under ‘Status’.

For the most part, this is very similar to the method Amazon has used previously. However, there are indications that this may all change at some point in the future. It appears that eventually this page will be replaced by the Security Credentials page, which can be accessed by the link in the top yellow box of the page above. If you click on this link, it will take you here:

Security Credentials

If you then open the section marked Access Keys (Access Key ID and Secret Access Key), it will drop down to reveal your currently active keys:

Security Credentials > Access Keys

The only problem so far is that this screen does not show the private key; only the public one. It is assumed that at some point, the AWS Access Credentials page will be replaced by this one, and at that time, the private key (or a link to display it) will be made available.

The other options on this page are mainly for web or cloud developers who design applications that utilize the API; they are not required for users of Associate-O-Matic, and so their functions are not relevant to this discussion. It’s possible that at some point, extra features may be made available, such as the ability to monitor your own API usage, etc. But until then, the only thing you need from this area (including the AWS Access Credentials page) is the public and private AWS keys.

Finally, in a related topic, some users have recently reported that Amazon is not approving their associate accounts because they do not have a website set up. Many times they are waiting for approval so they can get their information to insert into their AOM stores. It’s a vicious Catch-22 scenario. One possible solution might be to set up a temporary site, such as a static page or even a blog. Possibly even a “coming soon” or “under construction” page that you could potentially put a few banner ads onto (not the generic parking page that some webhosts offer, such as GoDaddy). If this page could have some graphics, and maybe mention what kind of site is going to eventually be found here, that might be enough for Amazon to see what’s planned for the domain name in question.

Then once you have the okay from them, you can get the associate ID and AWS keys to plug into AOM, and your new online store is up and running. It must be remembered that by far the biggest use of Amazon’s API is to provide text links and banners for blogs, forums and the like. These sites can be set up and operational without needing an associate ID. Online stores like AOM, etc., are in the tiny minority of Amazon’s overall traffic. So sometimes a policy that may not cause any problem for 95% (or more) of their affiliates can be a huge headache for the rest of us.

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