What Is A GTIN & Why Do I Need Them?

GTIN-memeIf you’re an ecommerce PPC advertiser and you’re using Shopping Campaigns in your AdWords account, this post is for you. So let’s get right to the point.

What Is A GTIN?

GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number. They come in 8, 12, 13 of 14-character flavors and represent a unified, global identifier for all products. The standards are maintained by GS1. Basically, it’s a number that works anywhere in the world so that companies and their information databases are on the same page.

Why Do I Need Them?

Short answer, because Google said so. Long answer, because Google is having problems showing the right product in Shopping ads. That creates a poor user experience when a potential customer sees a Shopping ad unit with a bunch of unrelated or incorrect products. Therefore Google wants you to include a GTIN so they can know they’re showing a full set of the “right” ads, thus making for a better user experience (and more money for Google, probably). For example:

What If I Don’t Have GTINs?

As with most situations, there are exceptions. Here are situations where you wouldn’t need GTINs:

  • You make the product and/or are the exclusive seller
  • Used or custom products
  • The manufacturer didn’t assign a GTIN

To indicate that your product doesn’t have a GTIN for any of the above reason, utilize the ‘‘identifier exists’ to ‘FALSE’ parameter in your feed.

When Is The Deadline?

Google will start disapproving products that should have a GTIN, but don’t on May 16th, 2016. That’s plenty of time to get your crap together and figure it out (if you haven’t already), so get on it!

Shout-out – For a more in-depth post about this topic with video from Google employees on the matter, read this post by Kirk Williams.