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Back in 2015, Google updated the Shopping Products Feed Specification, requiring merchants to submit valid GTINs for any products that were from a list of 50 specific brands.
As of today, that list is being extended beyond those 50 brands to all products with a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer. This means that many retailers using Google Shopping are now required to use GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers), or face item-level disapproval from Google.
What are GTINs?
GTINs can vary from 8-14 digits, and differ slightly from region to region, for example in Europe they’re known as EANs. Put simply, they are unique product identifiers that help Google to understand exactly what is being sold. If Google can fully understand the identity of the product, ads can be served to the most relevant users, based on their search query. This is ultimately giving a richer experience to users and helping them to make a decision; something that Google is very fond of.
Will the change affect me?
The update doesn’t just affect UK retailers; it will also apply if you target any of the following countries with brand-name products that are sold by multiple merchants:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
If you sell products that are unique only to you, such as vintage, handmade or used items, chances are the change won’t affect you.
GTINs are a standard requirement for listing and selling products on many other sites such as Amazon and EBay, but if you’re still not sure whether this applies to you, check out your diagnostics tab in the Merchant Centre for any warnings, as these were sent out back in February.
- Don’t try to make up a GTIN, or else you’ll end up with disapproved offers
- If a product doesn’t appear to have a valid GTIN, it’s possible to request a review of disapproved offers via the Merchant Centre
- When selling bundles, such as a camera with a camera bag, use the GTIN of the primary product
- If you’re selling handmade items and your product doesn’t have a GTIN or MPN, set ‘identifier exists’ attribute to ‘FALSE’, to let Google know there is no unique product identifier
- Even if you the change doesn’t affect you, it’s recommended to use unique product identifiers where available, as this can have a positive impact on ad performance
For more information and to ensure you’re up to speed with the change taking place, get in touch with us today.