As you may have heard by now, Google is making it mandatory for you to provide product GTIN values in your shopping feed.
We first reported on the Google Shopping GTIN update back in February and recently publications have been writing about it left right and center… This is because the new rule will officially be enforced next week Monday, 16 May 2016.
WHY IS GOOGLE DOING THIS?
As is the case with most updates, Google is continually finding ways to enhance the shopping experience of its users. The more Google knows about your products, the higher the chances of it serving the right product ad to the right shopper. Search Engine Land shared a nice little summary supporting this update and although it may seem unnecessary at first, it will in fact help increase the number of impressions and conversions you receive. Read Google’s announcement here.
WHICH PRODUCTS NEED A GTIN?
From May 16 onward, all products that are new, brand-name items sold by multiple merchants are required to have a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) value, which is the completely unique but globally standard code for every individual product. The only exceptions are items that are not new and/or are only sold by you, including custom, handmade and vintage items. In the case of used items, adding the GTIN is recommended (if available), but not required.
FOR WHICH COUNTRIES IS THIS RELEVANT?
This update applies to anyone targeting Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or the US.
If you have not updated your feeds to include GTINs by the effective date, you’ll start seeing products being disapproved by Google. In short:For Google to continue to serve your ad, you need to supply the GTIN. (Only those products that do not have a GTIN will be disapproved. Google won’t suspend your whole account.)
WARNING NOTICE TIME
Once GTIN becomes mandatory, how much time do you have until Google will disapprove your product?
- For products already existing in your feed: __1 month__
- For new products added to your feed after 16th May: __must be supplied from the start in order to be accepted__
Getting GTINs takes time. If you have not yet made this change to your feeds, we strongly recommend you begin now.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
Step 1) Check your feed for missing GTIN values
There are different ways of finding this out.
- __In Google Merchant Center__, navigate to the diagnostics tab under items and see if Google is displaying either one of these messages - the latter being for disapproved products since September 2015. GTINs should also be provided for these disapproved items. ![GTIN error message](https://images.ctfassets.net/q17uls4wkkdz/1oyKY455MgjJtvd3RKoKsv/4cc3c0850cef1a5ff2826847a2d9bc48/GTIN-error-msg.jpg)![GTIN error message 2](https://images.ctfassets.net/q17uls4wkkdz/2cpgb4zw7q2YHHtxOr1CP5/88123e81f149b6d45b22247becfbf406/GTIN-error-msg-2.jpg)You can also download the entire error log (current issues) and then filter according to GTINs to see which products are affected.
- __Alternatively, on the Productsup Platform__, you can filter the GTIN attribute column for empty fields and then create a blank export for just the products so that you have a clean list of products that still require a GTIN.
At Productsup we also have a great feature where you can __import your feed errors from Google__ and the actual description or reason for the error will appear in a separate column for each applicable product in your feed.
Step 2) Source the missing GTIN values
There are different types of GTINs and Google will accept any of the values, as long as the field is not empty.
- UPC in North America – also known as GTIN-12
- EAN in Europe and other regions – also known as GTIN-13
- JAN in Japan – also known as GTIN-13
- ISBN for books
- ITF-14 for multipacks – also known as GTIN-14
There are different ways of acquiring your GTINs
- See if you’ve got it in your supply chain system (warehousing or inventory fulfilment fulfillment system). Often these use GTINs to identify brand-name products.
- Ask your supplier (either manufacturer directly or distributor) to send it
- You can also get it directly from your inventory. __GTINs are printed on the product’s package, underneath the bar code__. There are a varying formats:![GTIN formats](https://images.ctfassets.net/q17uls4wkkdz/5eQb0tavmygoIY4nOfvzNb/d3d4a2310a20db7d1ce803230dca3461/GTIN-formats.jpg)
- Perhaps you’ve got your product GTINs on your web page but not yet in your feed. Here you can use the Productsup data crawler to extract and import the information to your feed.
- Get a third party to source / provide your GTINs
- *Special tip: *Find your GTIN on Google Shopping: We've noticed that Google actually shows the GTIN on certain Google Shopping product pages.
Here's how you find it:
![Google GTIN on Shopping product pages](https://images.ctfassets.net/q17uls4wkkdz/36OvkIrFLA8HVTVukCFpIG/7b595d6264e176d1afe347e9b2b3927c/Google-GTIN-on-Shopping.gif)
Note: This seems to be limited to the US and to certain products. For example, we've seen this for some electronic products but not yet for apparel. Keep this in mind though as Google may eventually expand this to all products categories and countries.
Step 3) Add the GTIN values to your data feed
You can either import your main feed with GTINs contained in it already, or you can upload a separate file that contains your GTINs and your unique product ID (at least). As long as your unique product ID is the same in both feeds, the columns can easily be matched, and your GTIN values will be added to your master feed within seconds.
KEY THINGS TO NOTE
- Never make up GTINs to fill the missing information. This will not work and your products will be rejected.
- For product bundles, always submit the GTIN of the primary product (also do this if you take a brand-name product and personalize it with (engraving etc.) – simply mark it as “is bundle” then)
- You need to submit a GTIN for each item variant (size, color, etc.)
- If you have your own brand and are the only seller, leave the GTIN field blank and do not use ‘identifier exists’ = ‘FALSE’
- Note here that although MPN and Brand are also classified as unique product identifiers, the focus here is on GTIN and on having to supply an appropriate GTIN value. Seeing that we’re dealing with brand-name items, however, the corresponding brand must be submitted too.
For more information, refer to this article about unique product identifiers.