There has been recent talk about an update coming to Google Shopping’s feed specifications. Many brands and digital marketing agencies were concerned about development hurdles that this may cause. Formatting a product feed that is not only to Google’s specifications, but also optimized for maximum performance has been a challenge for many. On Monday, June 8, Google released information on the Inside AdWords blog regarding the changes in feed specifications many thought were coming.

From an overall perspective, these updates are fairly minor and will not require any extra work for most brands. In fact, some of these changes may help with efficiencies around managing an optimized product feed, and ensuring top performance in campaigns with Product Listing Ads. Some of the larger changes coming out of this update are highlighted below with the effects we think they may have on advertiser’s efforts within Google Shopping:

  • GTIN’s – Google’s guidelines around correct GTIN usage are being tightened. Any brand that is already using correctly formatted UPC’s (in the U.S.) shouldn’t be affected by this update. While our point of view has always been to utilize the GTIN attribute, we do realize that some of our advertisers and clients struggle with this. A good place to start would be to ask your manufacturers to include UPC codes (if they aren’t already), or to pull in UPC information from the barcodes on products you are already selling. Two great additional resources on GTIN’s and unique product identifiers are available below:
  • Google Product Categories – Formerly, Google Shopping feeds required fully spelled out Google Product Categories such as “Apparel & Accessories>Clothing>Skirts”  for each item listed in the feed. Apart from simplifying some of these naming conventions and adding more categories, Google has provided a numerical ID that corresponds to each version of Google’s product taxonomy. For example, instead of having to list out “Apparel & Accessories>Clothing>Skirts” in the feed, it can now be replaced with the ID of “1581”. While this is an optional feature, we expect many advertisers to take advantage of this enhanced functionality due to ease of use. The full list is available here: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/1705911
  • Apparel and Variants Attributes – These have been renamed “Detailed Product Attributes and Item Groupings”.  While not much has changed here, usage of the “Item Group ID” is becoming stricter and a lack of usage may result in disapproval. For example, if one version of a dress is available in many different colors and sizes, each dress should use the same “Item Group ID” but have unique values for “color” and “size”.

Blue Moon Digital will continue to monitor any changes and announcements from Google around updates to Shopping’s feed specifications. As it stands now, these changes are scheduled to roll out on September 15, 2015. Any product feed not in compliance by that date may stand the risk of being disapproved. If you have any questions about how these changes may impact your business, feel free to contact the digital marketing and paid media experts at Blue Moon Digital today at info@bluemoondigital.co.