Feb 122016

Google Moves to Require Product GTIN in Feeds

This week Google announced that starting May 16, 2016 all products with assigned GTINs from the manufacturer will be required to be submitted with the correct GTIN value. For reference, GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number, and includes an item’s UPC, ISBN, EAN, or JAN.

This is similar to an announcement made by Google in 2015, where 50 “Designated Brands” were identified and GTINs were required for Shopping eligibility.

This announcement is a BIG deal, as there are very few brands that currently require GTINs to be eligible to serve for PLAs. This is not considering media products or the 50 ‘Designated Brands’ already mentioned above.

The requirement to have a correct GTIN value for all assigned products will have a heavy impact on sellers who do not currently submit GTIN values or simply submit them incorrectly, as their products will be ineligible to serve for PLAs or Shopping. Given the deadline of May 16th, there is still ample time to gain access to the correct GTIN value for the corresponding product, but we do suggest that sellers take this announcement seriously.

Google believes that providing accurate GTINs is important to ensure products are properly identified and to offer a better experience for users. In addition to eligibility for other ad formats and better targeting, Google states, ‘Correct GTINs put your products in front of more potential customers; we’ve seen that offers matched to the Google Shopping product catalog may receive up to 40% more clicks than unmatched offers.’

We have seen Google test various ad formats on the standard SERP, but the most notable is a Shopping style ad that groups sellers together by one product. This format is different than a traditional PLA, as the Title, Image, Product Details, and Reviews are all crowd sourced if Google doesn’t have the correct GTIN in their database.

These ads typically serve on very specific searches where an MPN or GTIN is included, but it is worth noting that Google is grouping each seller based on their submitted GTIN, and this new GTIN requirement pushes Google Shopping further into a marketplace-like platform.

Last year Google introduced the Manufacturer Center, which allows manufacturers to upload their product catalog to Google’s database, helping increase the accuracy of product information and improve the user experience. Google has indicated in the long-term, this information will make it easier for retailers to provide accurate product information.

Prior to the Manufacturer Center, Google relied on crowd sourcing to identify the correct GTIN value for products. In the past, we have seen issues with Google mismatching products due to data discrepancies from different retailers, but Google claims they have made improvements with their learnings from the 50 ‘Designated Brands’ requirement last year.

They are hopeful to have less issues identifying products that require a GTIN as well as products that are submitted with incorrect GTINs.

Where to Go For Product GTINs

Here are a few suggestions on how to identify the correct GTIN for each product:

  • Work with merchandising teams to track down and identify these GTIN values.
  • Online UPC databases that house GTIN information, such as UPCindex.com
  • Additionally, Google has shared some documentation that can help identify GTINs for sellers who may be unaware of how to find them. The link can be found here.
  • Google also recommends a Barcode Scanner App that can scan the barcode of a product and identify the correct GTIN.

We believe the simplest method would be for marketers to work with their merchandising teams to identify these GTIN values. With merchandising teams having contacts at the manufacturers, and access to product catalogs as well as purchase orders, they are the best resource in identifying the values specific to your product catalog.

Conclusion

With our knowledge of Google’s ability to match products using GTINs, it is clear that sellers need to start supplying GTIN values for all products that have an associated GTIN in order to remain eligible. Additionally, being on the forefront of compliance with the GTIN requirements can help provide a competitive advantage, while competitors either lose Shopping eligibility to product disapprovals or scramble to find correct GTIN values before it is too late.

Comments

2 Responses to "Google Moves to Require Product GTIN in Feeds"
Hi Nathan, what about if the merchant is the manufacturer of the item and has never used GTINs?
Hey Mark! If a merchant manufactures a product that truly does not have an associated GTIN, then Google should not be able to recognize a matching GTIN for the product; therefore making it not necessary to include a GTIN. What is more, if the product is exclusively available in the merchant's catalog, then it is even more likely that a GTIN is not required. Again, the purpose of requiring a GTIN is to allow Google to group products accurately within the SERP. If the manufacturer does not have a GTIN for this product, chances are there is not one for Google to use for this grouping purpose. If you have any doubts on whether Google will be requiring GTINs for your products, they are currently issuing warnings within the Diagnostics tab of the Google Merchant Center. The warning will read "Item requires a GTIN, resolve by May 16, 2016".

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