What is a product data feed?

By December 8, 2014 No Comments

What is a product data feed?

Right so… What is a product data feed?

A product data feed is basically a file that contains product information; commonly, product information gathered directly from an ecommerce website. With a product feed – a list of all your products in one place – it becomes very easy for retailers to send out their product inventory to various partners and publish listings in all their digital marketing channels.

Product = the stuff you sell
Data = the information about that product, such as colour, price, description, images, etc etc.
Feed = the format it needs to be in to send to marketing channels such as Google, comparison shopping engines and affiliates.

What are product feeds used for?

Product feeds are extremely flexible. As well as providing the data for straightforward listings and adverts, they can be used to create engaging, interactive, dynamic advertising content across various online channels and applications, including:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Google Shopping integrations
  • Dynamic display advertising
  • Comparison shopping engines (CSEs)
  • Behavioural retargeting

Who needs a product feed?

A product feed can be used by a retailer looking to improve their online sales by expanding their product reach. This is particularly important if you have a wide selection of products, or sell products with frequently changing prices or availability. For example…

  • Fashion retailers: Here, the product feed describes each product’s attributes, such as size, gender and colour, as well as pricing and availability.
  • Mobile phone companies: In this category, the product feed will describe the various combinations of product (phone) attributes such as the handset and contract attributes (e.g. price per month, number of minutes per month etc.)
  • Travel companies: Product feeds in travel can describe one or two legs of a journey (e.g. different flights), or describe the product (e.g. a hotel) plus the journey information, that makes up a package holiday. It’s pretty complex data, due to the sheer number of variations possible.
  • Entertainment clients: With entertainment products, the product pricing and availability can change rapidly. Product feeds can be used to instantly update an online basket to ensure pricing consistency across the inventory.

Plenty of other categories can also benefit from using product feeds. Brands who manufacture products and sell through retail partners – perhaps not actually managing an e-commerce site themselves – can use a product feed that combines data from various retail partner sites. They can use this feed to promote their own offers, and allow brand consumers to purchase by referring them back to the retailer site. This sort of feed will also provide brands with useful e-commerce intelligence.

How often should I update my feed?

Data feeds should be refreshed at least once a day, but for some products (such as those with rapidly changing prices) the feed should be refreshed more often to ensure that product data is up-to-date.

Feeds should ideally be published at the same time each day (or by a given deadline) so that those using the feed know the best time to retrieve your data. It’s also crucial that feed updates are synchronised with new product launches, so they are marketed as soon as possible.

Six advantages of using a data feed

  1. Data feeds can include all the key features and attributes of all products
  2. Data feeds can be created within two weeks, making them available for remarketing and distribution across online channels pretty quickly
  3. Your product data will be consistent and reliable across the channels you advertise in
  4. Data feeds can help to increase product visibility across multiple channels – you’ll reach more consumers
  5. They are a simple and cost effective way of taking part in multi-channel marketing, as well as gaining interaction from new and existing customers
  6. Data feeds can also be used by affiliates to increase their sales commission: affiliates can access up-to-date and accurate product data directly from advertisers if they use a product feed