In September 2015, Google started to require Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for the top 50 brand products listed in Merchant Centre feeds.

In Feb 2016 Google announced the requirement for all brand-name product sold by multiple merchants would require GTINs.

Come the 16th of May – If your Google product feeds do not contain the mandatory (GTIN) fields you are in serious Google shopping feed trouble.

There are lots and lots of articles already out there that talk about what it is, why it is, why it’s been done and most have nice images and long references so we thought we would try a different approach.

  • A brief introduction
  • Some useful further reading
  • A summary of questions we have answered for prospect and clients regarding this topic
  • Our advice

A Brief Introduction

A unique product element, many savvy advertisers have been using the GTIN for years to gain high quality, highly relevant traffic. A recent announcement by Google means that as of May 16th 2016 the fields become a mandatory requirement for a merchant centre product feed to feature with Google and its partner network

The bad news for advertisers. If your feed does not include GTIN codes (where relevant) shortly after the May 16th deadline not only will your products missing the attribute not show but your account will be suspended and none of your products will show.

Further reading

Google guide to back ground and resolution

What are GTINS

Google post suspension manual review process

Knowledge Cards (in particular product knowledge cards)

Google merchant centre login

Questions the team have answered recent on this topic

What are these GITINs (spelling mistake is deliberate)

The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN for short) has been around for decades and can best be described using two links (included above) Wiki and Google

What happens if I don’t do this?

You will get a warning – Given a time to resolve – Your offending ads will continue to show Account suspension – Following the warning period IF the matter is not resolved your account will be suspended – ALL your products will not show on Google shopping.

Account suspension sounds a bit harsh?

Your products will continue to be available on other marketing channels its Google Shopping that you will no longer be able to use and there is a manual review process if you think there has been an error (see link above).

When is this coming into force?

May 16th 2016 is when disproval begins. The announcement was made in Feb 2016 and the earliest reported warnings are around the same time.

Doesn’t Google provide guidance on how to resolve this?

Yes; Advance warning: it’s a hard read so make sure you have had your coffee before you start – https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/160161?hl=en&rd=1

I can’t get the GTINs for my products?

Yes, you can, search, speak to manufacturers, suppliers, look online at your competition the short answer here is its not optional you have to add this data otherwise you will lose one of your biggest product based revenue generators. If you are really struggling (especially with the deadline looming) – http://www.decept.co.uk/ean-lookup

If it’s not broke why fix it?

Google feels that it is broken. The GTIN inclusion is designed to improve Ad quality, lead to a more centric control and product descriptions, provide a more aligned manufacturer, image, search experience for searchers looking for a product and of course provide much more accurate data on products, amongst other things. What’s going to happen in the future? (a guess) A more frequent deployment of Product knowledge cards, less control of shopping products by advertiser and more centralised control by the manufacturers, possibly a mandatory inclusion of MPNs (Manufacturer Part Numbers), increased number of shopping ad positions, reintroduction of the Google comparison shopping service once Google have the data, higher competition as a result of more unified information.

How do I check if I have issues?

Log into you merchant centre today, navigate to the account you wish to check, click on Diagnostics tab (located in the left hand panel), click on “item” warnings (located in the bottom right corner), wait for the page to load and you get a list of the items that have issues.

What products will it affect?

Best bet is to follow the “how do I check if I have issues” instruction above. A short summary – everything that’s a brand-name product sold by multiple merchants

Can I not do this on the evening of the 15th May?

Don’t; Our data suggests, if you have issues and warnings you are already losing impression share, quality scores will no doubt be impacted more and more the closer we get and there is always the old adage don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today

Can I cheat?

Don’t; Google stress that you should not create GTINs or purchase your own in order to simply fulfil this new requirement. Doing this will result in the products being disapproved!

Our advice

Don’t wait to fall foul of the rule change and definitely don’t get into the manual review process (if this is anything like the natural search link review department they are going to be very busy people) it’s something that you have to do.

Veteran advertisers and marketers know from past experience if Google mandatories it! Google gets it! don’t fight a losing battle comply and continue getting the benefits of one of the best return on investment e-commerce based advertising ever made available to advertisers.

Or get in touch with Adrac and if you are really nice we might help you for a charge of course.

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