The short answer is yes. Google has always been clear on the fact that it would really really prefer every product being advertised via the Merchant Center to have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). However, following the GTIN being made a compulsory attribute for 50 named brands last year, Google is requesting that everyone who can do includes the GTIN in their feed by May 16th this year at the latest, or risk being banished.
WHAT IS A GTIN?
A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is one type of unique product identifier; indeed, probably the most popular. Other unique identifiers include Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) and brand names.
Perhaps a bit confusingly, GTINs cover a range of different unique identifiers, with other names:
- UPC (in North America / GTIN-12): 12-digit number (8-digit UPC-E codes should be converted to 12-digit UPC-A codes)
- EAN (in Europe / GTIN-13): 13-digit number
- JAN (in Japan / GTIN-13): 8 or 13-digit number
- ISBN (for books): 13-digit number (ISBN-10 values should be converted to ISBN-13)
- ITF-14 (for multipacks / GTIN-14): 14-digit number
WHY DOES GOOGLE LOVE IT?
Let’s hear it from Google: “GTINs help us understand exactly what you’re selling. When we understand what you’re selling, we can help boost your ad performance by adding valuable details about the product and serving the ad in a more relevant way to users. This also means that your ads can serve in more places on Google, YouTube, and our partner sites. Merchants who’ve added correct GTINs to their product data have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.”
Seems like a pretty good reason to make it a ‘required’ field for the relevant retailers.
WHO NEEDS TO PROVIDE A GTIN?
Anyone who sells brand-name products that are sold by multiple merchants, especially if you are targeting Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or the US.
The changes may not affect you if you sell used, custom, handmade, or vintage products, but the advice overall is that unique identifiers are just a darn good thing to include.
HOW DO I FIND A GTIN?
Generally, the GTIN is the 12, 13 or 14-digit number below the barcode on a product.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A GTIN?
Google has accepted that some products simply don’t have a GTIN associated with them. In these cases, the attributes of MPN and BRAND are required. That is, unless you are selling something like a book or a movie, where there would be no BRAND.
If you think you need to get GTINs but don’t have them currently, GS1 could be a good starting point.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
From this month (February 2016), you’ll perhaps notice that Google is sending you ‘Warnings’ (in the Diagnostics tab in Merchant Center) for products without a GTIN.
From May 16th this year, you can expect to see items become disapproved if they don’t meet the new requirements.
More information from Google available here: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6352134
Speak to FusePump for more information on creating and distributing the perfect product data feed for Google Shopping and other comparison channels…
In related news, emojis are no longer allowed in Product Listing Ads (PLAs), following a tightening up of their guidelines. Crying with laughter face.