Google updates GTIN requirements

In August 2015 Google updated the feed requirements for merchants using Google Shopping. This meant that retailers were now required to send the GTIN (Global Trade Item Numbers) for any products listed as new and from a list of designated brands.

Going forward in 2016

In a recent update, Google announced that they'd be expanding GTIN requirements beyond those 50 brands to include all items with a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer. Google claim that merchants who've added the correct GTINs to their products have seen conversion rates increase by 20%.

A key part of succeeding in Google Shopping is creating a good product and data feed. As with any Google service, the better optimised your feed is, the more likely they are to display your listings over your competitors.

Google commented "We've found that providing GTINs in your product data feed increases the likelihood that your offers are matched to the Google Shopping product catalog. This helps us surface relevant, accurate results on Google Shopping"

What does this mean for retailers?

When the first updated feed specification was rolled out in September of last year; many retailers found that their once healthy merchant centre was full of feed errors requesting GTINs for designated brands. If you weren't already sending a GTIN to Google, you would have needed to send an updated XML or manual upload to ensure that this was included. For those that were sending them, the hunt was on for valid GTINs.

Today, if you sell new, brand-name products, you'll need to review your in-house GTIN policy and double check that your feed and product data is up to specification. If you're selling own brand goods, this change is unlikely to affect you. Similarly, if you're selling used or custom made products you won't be impacted by the update.

Next steps

If you are selling in/targeting Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or the US, you'll need to submit a new feed with valid GTINs.

GTINs vary in length depending on the product being sold. Below is a list of the different identifiers you may encounter:

  • 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
Name Description Location Format Feed Attribute
Universal Product Code (UPC), also called GTIN-12 and UPC-A A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily North America 12 numeric digits GTIN
European Article Number (EAN), also called GTIN-13 A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily outside of North America Typically 13 numeric digits (can occasionally be either eight or 14 numeric digits) GTIN
Japanese Article Number (JAN), also called GTIN-13 A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Only in Japan 8 or 13 numeric digits GTIN
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) A unique numerical identifier for commercial books published since 1970 that can be found on the back of the book along with the barcode. Globally ISBN-10: 10 numeric digits (last digit may be "X" which represents the number "10″).
Note that this format was deprecated in 2007, and not all books can be represented using ISBN-10.
ISBN-13 (recommended): 13 numeric digits and typically starts with either 978 or 979
GTIN
Brand The brand of the product. Globally Name of brand. Brand
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) The number which uniquely identifies the product to its manufacturer. Globally Alphanumeric digits (various lengths) MPN

For more information on GTIN and product identifier requirements click here.

Updating your feed

If you've been in the Merchant Centre recently you will have seen low-level warnings from Google requesting you add GTINs to new, branded products by May 16th 2016. As with the previous update, Google have set a deadline for the new GTIN requirements to be met if they are to continue serving your ads. 

We would highly recommend updating your product data ahead of the deadline as once your products are disapproved, it can sometimes take up to 48hrs for them to be re-approved; that's loss of revenue and visibility. You also run the risk of account suspension if you do not make the required updates in time.

For help with managing your Google AdWords or Shopping Campaigns, we have a certified Google AdWords team with years of experience that can help optimise your feed and campaigns for best product placement and maximum ROI.

Netmatter are a commercial thinking digital marketing agency that can help you profit from AdWords, contact us today.

Catherine Durham

Catherine Durham

Digital Marketing Manager (Dip DigM)

Digital Marketing Manager at Netmatter, Catherine Durham graduated in Press & Editorial Photography. She has since gone on to work in digital marketing and ecommerce, with experience in SEO, copywriting, design and photography.

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