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What Google’s new GTIN Regulations Mean for Advertisers

February 19, 2016

Google GTIN Regulations

In their on-going effort to create an efficient ecosystem for merchants using their Shopping platform, Google has once again updated their GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) regulations. Starting in May 16 this year, they will begin to disapprove product listings failing to comply with the new rules. For anyone selling or advertising on Google, this is the right time to learn about this change and what it entails doing.

Why is Google Asking for GTINs?

Google started requiring merchants to specify GTINs in September 2015, initially focusing on products from 50 major brands to be advertised in specific countries: Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. The updated regulations will now extend to all products which have been assigned a GTIN, regardless of the brand or manufacturer.

These codes will help Google know what each product represents exactly, which in turn will allow them to optimize ad performance for merchants and buyers alike. According to the company, merchants who specified correct GTIN during the initial test round for this feature saw as much as 20% improvement in their conversion rates.

Implementation Process Overview

The GTIN code is printed alongside a product’s barcode, so when available it can be obtained by looking there. Alternatively, you can contact a brand or manufacturer to obtain a list of their GTINs, in case you deal with too many of their products to make it practical looking up each number individually.

Merchants should now get in the habit of entering a product’s GTIN code, especially when creating listings for new products, as well as updating their active listings. While Google will be issuing warnings on an item-basis through the merchant center during the transition period, failure to add GTIN codes to applicable products will get ads immediately disapproved after May 16 this year.

A real world example

Let’s imagine you sell fashion related products through Google merchant. Let’s say you cover products from big brands like Nike, Calvin Klein, Diesel or Armani — then you will have to make sure to write in GTINs with each individual product listing. If you sell many products from a brand or don’t have physical inventory at hand to check the GTIN of each product, you may often get a list from the manufacturer or distributor.

Even if you only represent little known brands, you must now get in the habit of checking (or asking) for each product’s GTIN as well. Remember: this is to make the listing process work best for everyone, including the final client – meaning you will benefit as well from adjusting to this change. In fact, we recommend doing so as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the grace period to expire.

One exception does apply: for anyone selling vintage items as well as custom items, there won’t usually be a GTIN (or a bar code for that matter) associated to the product.


Google will soon require all merchants to fill in GTINs for all their product listings. This will ensure better cataloging of products in Google and eventually lead to better targeting and optimization of ads. GTIN codes are the numbers listed below a product’s bar code; they feature 8, 12, 13 or 14 digits, depending on where the code was issued.



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