Relax. Google isn’t going to take down all your product listing ads on May 16th

It’s a bit more nuanced than that

Semantics3    5 mins

Relax. Google isn’t going to take down all your product listing ads on May 16th

It’s a bit more nuanced than that

The Land of the Rainbows by stingerstyler.

When May 16 arrives, life is going to be a pain for retailers wanting to list on Google’s shopping platform.

So life probably has already been a hell for you, especially if you’re the sorry soul in charge of finding GTINs for your listed products.

Some of the retailers we’ve spoken to mentioned that they plan to get around this by marking all items which lack GTINs as

‘identifier exists’ = false,

in their feed.

Tough luck.

Google will eventually flag these products, and you’ll be caught with your pants down.

So what happens if you don’t have GTINs when you need to have one?

You lose to your competitors that are more prepared, and worse, you lose out on precious traffic.

Two main deadlines are key to note here:

Once enforcement begins, you can expect to receive red flags for even products that are supposed to have GTINs, but were marked as unnecessary in your feeds.

Why, Google, why?

Well, from our sources, we learned that these requirements were driven by a couple of core reasons:

These items ultimately help Google in offering a better product for their users.

A more credible and attractive platform for shopping / e-commerce helps drive user traffic to the platform, and helps retailers sell more.

My products are getting flagged. Help!

Our sources clarified Google’s policy in further detail — much more than what we were hearing from retailers desperate to pack their catalogs with literally any GTIN just to get their products through verification:

Google is adopting a “blacklist” strategy as opposed to a “whitelist” approach to flagging products that need GTINs.

They are aware that not all products have GTINs.

In order to have a GTIN, the product’s manufacturer must:

In fact, not all products manufactured as even issued GTINs.

Dyson, for example, issues GTINs for its suite of products, but not for individual components or spare parts.

And Google knows this, which means you can’t get away with providing GTINs for components that belong to the finished products.

This is because GTINs are not cheap. Each manufacturer’s prefix has a limited number of permutations that can be created, based on the length of the prefix.

Generally, the shorter the prefix, the greater the number of GTINs you can create for your products. But more doesn’t always mean better. Getting a GTIN prefix isnt cheap either as you can see below:

This state of the matters has led to 2 things:

This sorry state of affairs is well known to Google, which is why they only flag products that have a reasonable chance of having a GTIN issued (i.e. has a manufacturer’s prefix, and is a complete product, not a component).

This actually is great for retailers, because you don’t have to worry about looking for GTINs that don’t exist (which is what is happening right now).

And we can help you with that!

Here’s how we can help with your GTIN-pocalypse

At Semantics3 we have been working closely with retailers, resellers and other players in the e-commerce space who rely on Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads to drive traffic and sales.

In order to find GTINs for your product, there must first exist a GTIN.

Many products don’t have GTINs. It’s often unnecessary to find GTINs for these products. Examples of products that usually don’t need GTINs include clothing, fashion accessories and spare parts/components.

On the other hand, products that often require GTINs include items like electronics and home appliances. Keep in mind, these products that have GTINs must be manufactured by companies that have obtained a GS1 prefix, which you can obtain here.

Once all these requisites are satisfied, we will be able to locate the GTINs for your products.

One way to filter out these products is to simply wait until Google flags them for you — this would allow Google to do the hard work of figuring out which products need GTINs (which dramatically improves the rate for GTIN-matching).

Typically we would need some form of metadata to ingest in order to generate matches. Data fields that work really well include:

While we can find a GTIN based on the product name or brand, this approach is not advised since text-based searches are fundamentally fuzzy matches and have a degree of error involved.

A typical process of GTIN-matching involves the following:

The process is often multi-pass, using several matching techniques to find the matches, which is why we almost always deploy our stellar Datascience-as-a-Service team to assist you with a high-touch service.

Semantics3 will be attending GS1 Connect 2016 in Washington, D.C. June 1-3 — Come find out how we can help you at the #GTIN-pocalypse Survival Stand (Booth 42).

If you’d like to chat with us earlier, schedule a meeting and we’ll call you directly!

Lovingly built in San Francisco, Singapore, and Bengaluru by Hari Viswanathan and the Semantics3 Team.

Published at: May 05, 2016

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