We’ve all been hearing about the changes coming from Google around adding Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) to the product data feed for PLAs, and most of us have undoubtedly seen the warnings in our product feeds for the past few months. If you have been ignoring them, it’s time to start getting these Unique Product Identifiers (UPIs) added as a feed attribute since the deadline is quickly approaching. As of May 16th, Google will begin disapproving products that do not have a valid GTIN associated with it in the feed.
So what’s a GTIN anyway? GTINs are simply the numbers below a bar code which are used by a brand-name manufacturer to uniquely identify a product in the global marketplace. Most of us know these as UPC codes or ISBNs. While Google has only been issuing warnings for now, you don’t want to be stuck scrambling to find and add in GTINs once your PLAs are no longer showing.
GTINs are assigned by the manufacturer and the prefix in each of these GTINs corresponds to a specific manufacturer. They are required for all brand-name products, and all new products which are sold by multiple merchants in 11 markets. They are not required for custom made goods, so think Etsy products here, or if you are the only seller, or if it is a house brand.
The purpose of this change, according to Google, is to make your ads richer and your products easier for shoppers to find. This is because the unique identifier helps Google understand what product it is, thus enabling Google to serve your ad in the most relevant way. If you have ever shopped for specific pieces of furniture like me, then you may have encountered the frustration that not having GTINs can cause. The same exact piece of furniture, same manufacturer, color etc., is usually sold by multiple retailers, however, that product could be called something different on each retailers website. This forces me to use image search in order to comparison shop, which is not the smooth shopping experience Google is aiming for.
So will your PLA program really see a 40% increase in clicks and a 20% lift in CVR if you add GTINs to all your products? Well, that’s relative and Google’s stats are based on SKUs with GTINs vs. SKUs without GTINs. If you have a poorly optimized feed with incorrect, or incomplete GTINs, and you suddenly add and fix them right now, you will probably see a healthy lift. Once the playing field is level again however, and all retailers are including these in their feed, it will likely balance out more. When our team did a simple and quick test by removing the GTINs on a small number of SKUs, we did see a sharp drop in traffic initially. We will continue running some tests and update you here with any results. For now, the most important thing to remember is that by adding GTINs into your product feed you will absolutely make it easier for Google to serve your ads for the most relevant queries and they will enable a more accurate match between your product and a shopper’s search query. In addition, they help Google bundle similar products and retailers together on broader searches.
Are you ready for the Google change? Have you encountered any issues with obtaining the correct GTINs? Tell us here!