These two modules are all schedulable. Which means that you can set a start and end date for the display of an ad or on a discount application.
By default, the Marketing Business Tools allows you to preview the rendering of an ad:
But nothing on a discount… and my two cents, that like my customers, you will tell :”Hey, Gaël, it’s not enough! I need to view my ads or my discounts in my website. I have to be sure that everything is set up correctly…”
Ok, so it’s pretty easy to see the result of your marketing campaign items if they are all applicable right now. Just open your web application and that’s it However, don’t forget that you might have constrains on your ads or discounts like for example:
- the ad can be displayable on a particular type of pages (home, products, basket, …),
- the ad or the discount is eligible if the connected user meets the requirement like to be a man or a woman
- etc, etc, … (if you have questions on all the different condition, do not hesitate to contact me )
But what can you do if your marketing campaign items are expected in 2 or 3 months? Do you have to wait the d day like you was expecting your first party? So, for sure the answer is…
… really depending of the quality of your Commerce Server Consultant/Expert Let’s pick up one of the below answers:
- “That’s not possible at all! Commerce Server don’t do those kind of feature!”
- Meaning that’s time for you to change your consultant/expert => Are you looking for a Commerce Server expert?
- “Change the server’s date and refresh your cache to see the result” (truthful!)
- Handy if you have staging and live on the same box, isn’t it?
- Most of the time it’s an IT task, and I guess they have something else to do… (I do hope )
- Don’t forget to rollback the date, so again an IT task…
- “Deactivate your eligible marketing campaign items and activate only the ones you want to test by changing the start date to the current day time.”
- Need to have a staging environment
- Painful, I have customer who has more than 100 advertisements and at least the same amount of discount…
- Confusion when you have to reactivate the true eligible marketing campaign items
- Have to be sure which have to be reactivate…
- Possible errors when you modify the begin and end date
- Some guys can tell you that a custom development for activating /deactivating a list of campaign items can be the solution. Right, but that’s still not an acceptable answer as you still have to tick/untick the campaign items…
- “No worries, we have the solution!”…
The solution is pretty simple. Fist, you have to know that the Commerce Server runtime loads the different caches and context information during the first load of the application or each time the cache is refreshing. That’s of course for better performance considerations.
In the case of discouts and advertising the caching system is loaded by two stored procedures (and an another one called by these 2 stored procedures) which is located in the marketing system database:
=> These stored procedures are called at the first load or each time the caches are refreshing.
The Commerce Server team did a really great job with the caching system on discounts and advertisements. Indeed, it’s possible to tell to the runtime which stored procedures to load and so, we are now able to include our own logic within them.
The idea, here, is to have two applications. One for the preview and another one for the default behavior. In the preview web application, we will load our two new stored procedures by the runtime.
In order to do that, we will tell to the runtime to load our 2 stored procedures by modifying the web.config file, in the caches section web.config > CommerceServer > Caches (see MSDN: caches Element).
In the preview application web.config’s file we will changing the default caching section by:
<cache name="Advertising" type="Advertising" refreshInterval="900" retryInterval="30" loaderProgId="Commerce.CSFLoadAdvertisements" writerProgId="Commerce.CSFWriteEvents"> <config key="LoadAdvertisementsProcedure" value="spGael_staging_mktg_spRuntimeLoadAdvertisements" /> </cache> <cache name="Discounts" type="Discounts" refreshInterval="0" retryInterval="30" loaderProgId="Commerce.CSFLoadDiscounts" writerProgId="Commerce.CSFWriteEvents"> <config key="LoadDiscountsProcedure" value="spGael_staging_mktg_spRuntimeLoadDiscounts" /> </cache>
The default behavior for the pipeline is to compare the start and end date with the current local time, but as you may know, changing that means re develop all the pipeline components and that’s of course not my solution . To workaround that, I will move back the start and end date by calculating the difference between the current date time and the preview date, and so retrieve it on all the scheduled discounts and advertisements.
Let’s execute the default stored procedure to load the advertisements caching system “mktg_spRuntimeLoadAdvertisements”:
Only the advertisements with the start and end date in the time frame of the 8th of July came up. For my post, I’ve created a new ad only visible between the 1st and the 31st of August:
If I execute again the stored procedure “mktg_spRuntimeLoadAdvertisements”, I got the exactly same result. Surprised? No! As my ad is not eligible. The start date is on the 1st of August and we are the 8th of July 2010:
Now, copy and paste the “mktg_spRuntimeLoadAdvertisements” stored procedure code and create a new one call “spGael_staging_mktg_spRuntimeLoadAdvertisements”. Just change the start and end date by retrieving the days number between the preview date and now.
If we now execute the stored procedure, we got just one result, because the preview date is on the 15th of August and only my ad is eligible:
Note that in my result, the start and end date have switched to 37 days back:
- Start date: 1st August 2010 – 37 days => 25 June 2010
- End date:, 31 August 2010 – 37 days => 25 July 2010
So, now time to run our preview web application (don’t forget to update the web.config) and miracle… my new ad is now displayed
Start the default behavior web application and note that my ad is not displayed
To finish, I give you here the code for the discounts stored procedure:
Hope this help!