With holidays close to us, it's a good time to do a last scan of your Google Merchant Center accounts to make sure your product identifiers are in order. This is particularly important given the recent changes.
Earlier this year, Google announced that it would update the unique Product Identifiers (UPI) for Shopping ads in 23 countries as of September 30
What is an UPI? First, the basics. A UPI is a unique identifier associated with a product. Common UPIs are Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN), and Brand Names.
What are the changes in UPI law enforcement? First and foremost, the most important. Previously, Google Merchant Center automatically declined products for which no UPI was required in feeds. Products with missing UPI will now be eligible for Shopping ads. But there is a problem. Products for which no (correct) UPI has been assigned in the feed will have a lower priority than the products of sellers with a correct UPI in their feed. Essentially, the missing UPIs place your products in a lower tier than your competitors who provided the UPIs for these products.
Another rule: if you do not find the IPI of a product, do not try to work around it by setting the attribute identifier_exists. in your feed on "false". If Google understands that the product has an UPI, it will disapprove it. Set this attribute to "true" and leave the UPI fields blank until you can obtain the manufacturer's information.
Finally, GTINs are unique identifiers. If you use the same GTIN for multiple products, they will be rejected.
Which countries are affected by this update? The UPI rules for purchase advertisements apply in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, India, Denmark, France, Italy in Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Why we should care. It's a big change to get visibility into Google Shopping for products that do not have UPIs. This means that it is better to have no UPI than incorrect or invalid indentity.
However, there is a real benefit and an incentive for this data to be correct in your feeds, especially in competitive sectors where several vendors offer the same products. Those who have complete and correct identifier data will have priority over those who do not have one.
Note that while Google has announced that this change will take effect at the end of September, there may still be some disapproval for products with missing credentials [gtin, mpn, brand] in Merchant Center.