Most of the requirements scheduled to become active in September 2015.
Leading search engine Google has announced a number of updates to the specifications pertaining to Product Taxonomy and Sopping Feeds. Most of these specs will take effect by September 15th.
List of changes to Shopping Feed Specifications
- Rather than entering the full path describing Google Product Category, you’ll be able to use the relevant ID from a provided list of Google Product Categories and their corresponding IDs.
- Only for the USA, Quantity and Units attributes will become available to enable easier transaction for products sold in high volumes or in bulk.
- Variants and Apparel will now be available, classified under a new section known as Item Groupings and Detailed Product Attributes, which will give merchants space to provide additional detailed descriptions of their products.
- Tighter requirements for ID and GTINs Attributes will be in place.
- Shipping requirements, which facilitate display of total product prices to consumers, will be available in Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland. However, shipping rate specifications are not enforceable up until February 1, 2016, since these require a more complicated implementation process for a majority of the merchants.
Implementation of the proposed updates under Product Taxonomy will be as recommendations rather than mandatory requirements. Nonetheless, a few categories under Product Taxonomy have seen significant retooling. These include Décor, Arts and Crafts, Sporting Goods, Hardware as well as Motor Vehicle Accessories and Parts.
In addition, a few child categories have been done away with completely. However, this comes with introduction of more categories relating to Mature categories and the Food, Beverages and Tobacco sections.
Description of changes to the GTIN and ID
Google is implementing a Help Center clarification with regards to the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number, known as EAN in Europe, JAN in Japan, UPC in North America and ISBN with all media products). The GTIN will become required for all merchants’ feeds. To refresh, merchants will be required to submit accurate values of GTIN for specific products targeted towards the US market.
This refers in particular to products that designate brands using the feed, with the Condition field set as “New”. This doesn’t require any new action for merchants; rather, it is given as a clarification regarding how the GTIN column should be used.
For Product IDs, only printable characters are acceptable for the ID field of product feeds. This change intends to get rid of trailing or leading spaces existent in the field, in addition to any encoding characters, which may be present within the field accidentally.
From June 1, violations related to this condition will serve as warnings, and later errors come September 15 when the changes go live.
Effect on merchants globally
The changes announced by Google will in some instances affect only specific market segments while some changes will affect advertisers on the platform on a global scale. Even though the changes are no live until September, advertisers are still welcome to find out whether their feeds currently comply with the proposed specifications.
This can be by going to the Diagnostics tab under Google Merchant Center. Information relating to non-compliance is available in the Item Warnings and Item Errors section in the Data Feeds tab. This should be prior to expiry of the deadline.
For some changes, Google will allow merchants a short-lived reprieve from complete disapproval. In the time, Google intends show the violations noted as ‘warnings’ under the Diagnostics which will be visible to users in their search results. This is instead of ‘errors’ messages which will permit product ads to keep showing until the relevant changes have been implemented.
However, eventually, all violations will graduate to full-scale errors and lead to disapproval of merchants found to have them.