What Retailers Need to Know about Google’s Update to Unique Product Identifier

|29th Aug 2019

Soon to be gone are the days of entering unique product identifiers to fulfil Google policy. Commencing 20th September, filling in your GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers), Brand names and MPNs (Manufacturer Part Numbers) to ensure your products are ready and approved to show on Google Shopping is no longer going to be required.

Google has told all of its agency partners:

“Items missing required UPIs will no longer be disapproved. These items will now be eligible to serve in Shopping ads. However, similar items with correct UPIs will receive higher priority than items that do not have correct UPIs. All items will continue to serve, but the performance of items without correct UPIs may be limited. Make sure that you provide the correct UPIs to maximise the performance of your items.”

If you want the full information of what Google has shared and are interested in finding out how your campaigns may be affected, then get in touch.

 

What Are Unique Product Identifiers?

Here is a rundown of the different unique product identifiers and their uses:

GTIN – Global Trade Item Numbers are used to identify trade items globally and can vary depending where the product is sold or the type of product sold. For example, in Europe the GTIN attribute is satisfied by filling it in with an EAN code which consists of 13 digits, but for a North American Market you’d need to provide the UPC code which is 12 digits long. GTINs are really useful as they’re another way Google can help match your products to the correct searches on Google and partner sites. Outside of Google the GTIN value is useful on other stores such as Amazon and Ebay.

MPN – or Manufacturer Product Number is an alphanumeric value that used by manufacturers to identify a product amongst other items from the same manufacturer. MPNs are really useful when advertising multiple products that are similar in nature but have varying price points or features, such as electronics, car parts and tools. Including MPNs makes sure you’re level with the competition on Google and may sometimes give you a leg up if your competitors leave it out of their product data, leading to your products showing over their listing.

Brand – This one is self explanatory but a Brand for all products you want to advertise on Google Shopping is a crucial part of your product data that should never be missed out.

 

Changes to Unique Product Identifiers

Historically, Google’s policy for unique product identifiers has been that merchants have to provide two out of the three unique identifiers attributes. So, if you don’t have an MPN you better have Brand and GTIN to fulfill Google’s policy. There are a few exceptions to this rule though which only come into play if your products are custom made, one-of-a-kind or produced before GTINs were introduced. In any of the above cases, you just set the ‘identifier exist’ attribute to false.

This update seems to be a continuation from earlier changes in rules with Google slackening up on required fields. Earlier in 2019, Google Product Category became a non-mandatory attribute. This trend seems to be a nod towards Google favouring other attributes to match product to search with the rise in importance of product type, title and description attributes.

UPI’s becoming non-mandatory is a pretty big deal and will subsequently help retailers get their products up and running on Google Shopping faster and easier with less overall required product data being needed. Even though Google has loosened its UPI requirements, they have stipulated that it will reward retailers and prioritise products that do have the correct information, which ultimately means correct and quality product data is still king in matching your products to the most relevant searches.

 

Accurate Product Data Is Still Key

The takeaway? Correct product data is still a cornerstone of running effective shopping campaigns but Google has loosened the shackles around unique product identifiers and the need for them as a required set of attributes.

Continuing product data optimisation to get your product data up to spec and optimised is still paramount to shopping and ecommerce success. Even though optimised product data is still a key pillar of successful Google Shopping campaigns Google seems to be transitioning the importance of certain attributes in favour for others. We’re looking at you product type…

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