GTINs: Short term pain for long-term gain

Google has just announced that they will now require a GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) for all products that originally have it assigned by the manufacturer. If you create a product and you want to be able to represent it in a universally accepted way on barcodes, a GTIN is necessary. They are the recognized standard format that barcode readers, etc. can understand.

While GTINs may sound like a hassle, they are a cost-effective way to have a product recognized globally. There are a number of GTIN official sellers that you can purchase GTIN numbers to assign to products. It usually comprises of a short form and a simple document back of unique GTIN numbers.

When Google Shopping was a free product, brands had to have a GTIN in their feeds for multiple products, including anything that was tangible and brand new (second hand, bespoke and antiques were often exempt). It is likely shopping feeds already have the ability to include GTINs and it’s more than likely that a product already has a GTIN assigned to it.

So why is Google doing this now? This is part of Google’s vision to create a different landscape for shopping ads, making it easy for shoppers to identify products. The USPs revolve less around an advertiser’s ability to sell the features of a product, but more the price of the product, and user experience of the retailer.

Recently, Google has been working on its Manufacturer Center, a centralized platform where the product creator sends in the official description, specs and image of a product. Google will then look up all the retailers in the shopping ads space that want to list that manufacturer’s products. If a retailer is located, they will then list the retailer using the officially approved specs and image.

Here’s an example of the new shopping ad when a shopper is searching for a very specific product. Cleaner and more accurate, the ad also requires less feed needs from the advertiser.

While it might seem like Google is simply adding more things into the feed, it is quite the opposite. By including this universal identifier, they can phase out a lot of fields like specifications and titles. (As many of us know, the more fields in a feed, the more chances of feed disapprovals.) The shopper can have a clearer idea of the product they are looking at, while the advertiser has a more straight-forward feed experience, allowing more time spent on the buying experience and price.

We’ll continue to monitor this space and will provide updates. Based on this initial release though, this is a great opportunity for advertisers and consumers.