GTINs or UPC’s required per May 16th!

If your advertising your products on Google Shopping with PLAs and are using PPC to gain visiability, then you know that Google announce a bit ago about the need to have UPC’s for every product you would like to have listed on Google. Well for those new to Google advertising we have put together a little bit of info on what a UPC or GTIN is and where you can go to get them if you make your own products and need an identifier sent up in your product feed.

Unique product identifiers go beyond the ‘id’ attribute to define the product you’re selling in the global marketplace. Common unique product identifiers include Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), and brand names. Providing unique product identifiers, especially GTINs, can make your ads richer and easier for users to find.

Who needs a UPC number?
If you sell products to a distributor or a retailer, those products need a UPC bar code that represents a “Global Trade Item Number” (GTIN). Most retailers doing scanning of merchandise at the checkout counter will require you to bar code label any merchandise you want them to carry. If the company requires a UPC number, then before you can label your merchandise, you must get a unique UCC Company Prefix from the single authority, the GS1 US (formerly the Uniform Code Council) that exclusively controls the assignment of numbers. Many national chains may require a copy of your Uniform Code Council (UCC) (GS1) letter identifying your company’s bar code. When you get a number, you will also get a certificate from that body authenticating your number; most retailers will demand proof of that certificate to verify that your number is an authorized unique number and is registered to your company.

What is a UPC bar code?
If you buy products in a retail environment, then you are familiar with the bar codes you see on most products in any of your local retail stores. This is called a GS1-12, or UPC-A code, it is 12 digits long and looks something like this:
The UPC number itself is referred to as the GTIN – Global Trade Item Number. The GTIN is made up of your GS1 Company Prefix and the number that you have assigned to that unique product.
The UCC Company Prefix is a 6-9 digit number assigned to you by the GS1. The number of digits is determined typically by how many products you will need to assign numbers to. If you have 50 products that require unique numbers, you would probably be assigned a 9 digit UCC Company Prefix (That leaves 2 digits to represent your items). In the bar code sample to the left, a 6 digit number, “012345” had been assigned. This number will represent the manufacturer on all of their products as well as in any EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) applications.
The second set of numbers are used to reference the specific product. It is called an “Item Reference Number”. This number is not assigned by the GS1. This number is up to the manufacturer and is often assigned in a random manner. In the example bar code above, the Item Reference Number is “67890”. Depending on how many items you have requested numbering for, this Item Reference Number may be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 digits long.
The last number is a check digit calculated from the previous 11 digits. It is not randomly assigned. Most bar code printing programs will calculate this check digit for you. The check digit for the example above is “5”.

Google requires GTIN & Brand for each product in your product feed and will start enforcing that as of May 16th, 2016. That means that products without a GTIN will be disapproved. If you got away so far, by adding Brand and (a fake?) MPN, it is time to go after your GTINs.
This applies to all new, in-stock products that have GTINs assigned by the manufacturer, in the Google Shopping feeds for these countries:
Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or the US,
Google already started showing warnings in the Diagnostics tab of your Merchant Center in February.Mid-May, they will actually enforce the presence of a valid GTIN, which means that products without GTIN & Brand will not be advertised.
GTINs help them understand exactly what you’re selling. When they understand what you’re selling, they can help boost your ad performance by adding valuable details about the product and serving the ad in a more relevant way to users. This also means that your ads can serve in more places on Google, YouTube, and their partner sites. Merchants who’ve added correct GTINs to their product data have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.

What is a GTIN?
GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number. It is a unique identifier for each product. It is better known as the Barcode. You may not have heard of GTIN, but it comes in many flavors that you probably do know, like UPC, EAN, JAN, ISBN or ITF-14.

What if I don’t have GTINs?
There are 2 possibilities:
1. a GTIN for your products does not exist, because they are unique, handcrafted, vintage or otherwise not mass-manufactured. Simply set the field “identifier exists” to False and you’ll be fine.
2. a GTIN for your products does exist but you do not have it. You need to find it and enter it in your store, or at least in your feed. There are various ways to do this:
• Cheat: this will not work. You can enter random numbers as GTIN, or your SKU or ID or MPN , but Google is connected to all GTIN-databases and they will instantly see that you are feeding them the wrong GTINs.
• Get the GTINs from your supplier. He should have ‘m all. If not ask the manufacturer. Or look up the barcode on the packaging. A barcode scanner app may help you go faster.
• Look up your GTINs in a GTIN-database.

Check your Google Merchant Center Account, to see for which products you need to add a GTIN.