Google updates product feed specification

As you may have noticed, there have been some changes happening across Google Shopping over the last couple of months. Google has announced several updates to the Google Shopping Feed Specification and Google product taxonomy. The goal being to create a richer experience for customers searching for products online and to simplify the process of providing information in your feed. Some of the updates require changes to your current product data.

Key dates to note:

  • Changes need to be implemented by 15th September 2015
  • Enforcement for shipping costs will start a little later, in February 2016
  • Non-compliant items will be disapproved and removed from Google Shopping starting 15th September 2015

Here’s a rundown of the changes that Google is making:

GTIN (Global Trade Item Numbers)

Probably the most significant change we will see and potentially the biggest cause of disapproval risks, is regarding the GTIN population. All products where the ‘brand’ is a designated brand and the ‘condition’ is ‘new’ must submit a valid GTIN.

Unique product identifiers (UPIs) are already required, but Google is being increasingly strict around UPI accuracy. Items with missing or incorrect unique product identifier values will be rejected.

  • Requirements regarding GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers) have been refined. These GTINs also include EAN (Europe, 13 numeric digits) and UPC (US, 12 numeric digits)
  • Submission rules around ID attributes have been tightened to prevent use of invalid characters or sequences. A product ID is required for all items in the data feed
  • Shipping requirements will expand to more countries: Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Japan

Previously, merchants could choose to submit two of the following three identifiers for their products: ‘brand’, ‘gtin’ and ‘mpn’. Now, for products sold in ‘new’ condition from a designated list of brands, merchants are required to specifically submit both ‘brand’ and ‘gtin.’

The guiding principles and requirements were refined around GTINs because GTINs uniquely and completely identify a product in the global marketplace. When you submit these identifiers, you make your ads richer, and you also make it easier for users to find the product that you’re selling.

Validation and Canonicalisation of Item ID

Google will disapprove IDs with invalid characters or sequences which are difficult to use in a user interface, e.g. trailing whitespaces or control characters.

Google product category IDs

ID: Currently you are required to provide the full Google product category path in a text format based upon the Google product taxonomy. This change sees retailers able to utilise numeric IDs instead.

Google product Taxonomy updates

Google Shoping feed specification updates

Values that you submit for the ‘Google product category’ attribute can be any taxonomy value that Google has published since August 2011. While it’s not required, Google recommend that you update your values for the ‘Google product category’ attribute to use the latest taxonomy values. If you are using the ‘category’ product attribute in your Shopping campaigns, some of your products might get assigned a different bid because they are categorised differently. Some categories have been retooled significantly, including Arts & Crafts, Decor, Hardware, Sporting Goods and Motor Vehicle Parts & Accessories.

Apparel and variant information

Variant attributes will now be grouped and known as “detailed product attributes”. Google already recommends providing these attributes if they are relevant so this is just a naming change rather than a functional amendment. “Detailed product attributes” include: ‘colour’, ‘size’, ‘pattern’, ‘material’, ‘age group’, ‘gender’, ‘size type’ and ‘size system’.

Units and quantity

The feed will support US units as well as metric units. Volume (floz, pt, qt, gal), weight (oz, only lb), length (in, ft, yd) and area (sqft) can all now be included within the feed.


Although there are no real game changers here, there are changes which mean action on your feed is likely to be required. Make sure you review your Google merchant centre dashboard regularly to check for product warnings, suspensions or optimisation opportunities – the earlier you carry out the changes, the less effect the update will have on your shopping feed.

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