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Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merchant Center

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# 1
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I've been grinding through this feed for the last few weeks trying to get the majority of the 390 products "searchable" before turning on AdWords. Unfortunately it's been slow going.

It appears the bulk of the products, HP Ink Cartridges, did not have a GTIN listed ... easy fix, right? ... I added the GTIN column with appropriate UPC numbers from HP .... and I expected a little more than 200 of the products to go from disapproved to searchable ... au contraire.

A few of the products did "move" from disapproved to searchable. What's weird though is that there's really no explanation, no extra details and no way to request a manual review ... it's just disapproved ... period.

Another oddity is that if you compare two similar products (e.g., HP 85 Magenta versus HP 85 Light Magenta) ... one of them gets approved and the other is disapproved. You would think this would make troubleshooting a breeze ... just compare the two products and see what's different ... but there is nothing different other than the product name and GTIN numbers (which should be different).

Can someone enlighten me on why one is approved and the other is not? BTW ... this is true for a lot of the HP ink cartridges we're trying to sell ... some approved ... some not.

Here's an image of a comparison between two products. Any help would be extremely appreciated.





3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

first, thank you for the screen-capture.

be certain that the cartridge is from the factory,
from the manufacturer, not refilled in any way

along the supply-chain.

be certain these are not variants of the same product.

also, check the diagnostics page for any website or account related issues.

for example, if the automatic-item-update feature is enabled in the account
be certain all microdata on the site meets all google-shopping policies and
matches only one item; for example, be certain there is only one item sku --
otherwise, be certain to disable this optional feature.

also, the descriptions seem to be duplicates.

generally, disapproved items require a minimum wait-time
before the items will be re-reviewed and status changed --
typically, three to seven days depending on the violation.

if the issue has been corrected and data re-submitted,
simply wait 72-hours for the items to be reviewed and
the website landing-page and image to be re-crawled
and examined for any policy related issues, before a
new final status may be assigned.

as an aside, age_group and gender are not required for such items.

that said, forum-members can mainly offer suggestions
based on the information posted here in the public forum;
we cannot look into any submitted data or account histories --
however, a merchant-center product-listing-ad support specialist
at google may be contacted directly.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

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# 3
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Lots of stuff in that message ... it looks very similar to a lot of your responses for "disapprove or invalid" products. It really shouldn't be this difficult. I can type "dog" in a google search bar and somehow google knows that I was looking to purchase a spotted terrier off the coast of Madagascar ... but try to add a product to your store and the best they can give you is three words ... the error might as well say "blue farm toy" because disapprove or invalid means nothing to me anymore.

I am using a manual feed with no automatic updates, the cartridges are new (and how would google know they're not ... and how would they know our magenta was new but our light magenta was used???) ... there is no automatic update feature turned on ... the description is identical but the "additional information" designates the color of the cartridge.

The only thing in this response that could be a factor is the "wait time". The only reason I raised the issue today is because some of the products have already been approved. The HP Magenta cartridge was disapproved ... I made the changes to a couple of hundred products ... the HP Magenta cartridge is now approved ... but the Light Magenta remains disapproved. I expected to see my dashboard graph drop significantly (go from red to green) ... but only about 20 products moved to the approved/searchable status. If it's the three day wait that's the problem, then it really sucks to have to wait three days before finding out if you "got it right this time".

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

yes, the process for dealing with most automatic disapprovals is similar.

the specific disapproval issues are usually what is dissimilar --
the more specific information that is posted usually can help
others offer more specific suggestions; for example, a screen

capture of the diagnostics-page's current-issues sections, after

72-hours have elapsed from the last data (feed) re-upload.

this is mainly a peer-to-peer forum.

depending on the disapproval google may or may not offer specifics --
this has been the case for quite some time and google has indicated
that they are aware of the shortcomings of their process.

automatic-item-updates was mentioned simply as a possibility
based mainly on what was posted -- microdata looks to be on
the website but forum-members cannot look into accounts.

the automatic-item-updates feature is enabled by default in many accounts --
this is separate from any feed and is unrelated to how a feed is submitted.

there are various supply-chain related policies -- being involved with
many supply-chain related disapprovals and suspensions over the years --
google seems to have methods to uncover supply-chain details; however,
they have yet to publicized their methods.

submitting duplicate products or items that differ by color
without a proper, unique, color attribute and an identical
item_group_id value for all items in a variant group, are
both described under the policies can therefore potentially
trigger a disapproval status.

the additional information may not be enough to
differentiate the items, in any case; but especially
if color and item_group_id are not being used.

the stated expectation is to carefully preview all the policies,
rules, specifications, guidelines, and recommendations, before
submitting any data, to prevent a disapproval or suspension.

some disapproval issues are flagged with specific details
or a specific link to request a review of the disapproval.

however, if there are no details and the issue cannot be resolved, about
the only remaining recommendation is to remove the disapproved items.

if the disapproval status still exists, even after some items (20 products)
have changed status, that may simply indicate that not all items, images,
and landing-pages have been reviewed yet or (in this case) the gtin issue
was not the only issue -- a single disapproval can be for multiple issues.

the best likely course would be to wait the 72-hours
and then contact a merchant-center support specialist
directly for guidance, if the disapproval status remains.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

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# 5
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Good info ... but ouch! I would hate to have to group all of my ink cartridges together and then add a color attribute to the feed, that would be a real pain. I thought the GTIN/UPC was suppose to help Google identify the product for comparisons. It seems like I'm being asked "Is this a 6 foot, brown Shetland pony? Yes" ... okay, "what color is the pony? brown" ... "what's the height of the pony? 6 foot" ... it makes little or no sense.


"the stated expectation is to carefully preview all the policies, rules, specifications, guidelines, and recommendations, before submitting any data, to prevent a disapproval or suspension."


I understand what you're saying here (e.g., read the rules before assembling) ... but it's simply not realistic. Because of all nuances associated with a data feed, it is impossible ... literally ... impossible ... to read Google's policies, rules, specs, guidelines and recommendations and expect your first or second data feed to be successful. There will always be some number of iterations before you "get it right enough to pass current google rules". Now someone who has done several feeds and has all the information on every product that is being fed ... and has it in a database that is programmed for Google's current specs ... yes, that person may have a chance. You would have to err on the side of providing any and all information ... and as you noted in your first response "as an aside, age_group and gender are not required for such items" ... well, they may not be ... but that data is in there ... so at least I know the disapproval isn't because I'm missing an age_group on this product.


And if I didn't mention it before ... thanks for the whole 72 hour piece of information ... I'm really hoping this is the cause for the disapprovals ... that it's just taking a while. I noticed in the course of today another 6 or 7 products have been approved. I could smoke a brisket at this pace.


It's a little maddening mainly because I did get Google support on the phone last week and asked them why my products were disapproved. Actually, I told them that I knew 200+ products did not have the GTIN and I was retrieving those ... but that there was a second reason for the disapproval that did not have a reason ... and I wanted to correct those issues before submitting the feed again. They could not find out why ... and it was their recommendation to submit a feed with the GTIN and "see what happens".


Celebird ... Thanks again for the responses / feedback ... I don't want to get good at this ... I want it to be easy. Smiley Happy


Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor
first, thank you for the forthright feedback.

the color or groups would only be
per variant (item_group_id) group --
rather than all items in one group.

just as with potentially adding the color to
the description, these would only be tried
if the disapproval status is not removed
after the gtin fix and the 72-hours --
especially given, "see what happens".

more generally, there is not one attribute that is
used to differentiate (nearly) duplicate items --
even if global-trade-data uniquely identify items.

for example, color as a separate attribute, color in
the title, and color in the description, may all be
used -- especially for automatic policy detection
and especially with respect to quality (relevance)
within the auctions.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

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# 7
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Update on google data feed disapproval ... it's been 5 days and still no approval or explanation on product disapproval. I'm on the phone with yet another Google tech. The one on Thursday put me on hold and eventually came back and told me that I hadn't waited long enough for the feed to be reviewed (it was four day at this point). I gave up ... I wanted to salvage my evening. And yet, here I am again .... Monday evening ... on hold with Google support ... trying to get an answer on why a fairly simple product (with gtin, weight, and every other piece of information is provided) continues to be disapproved. The biggest issue is that it is disapproved and there's no explanation ... you can't get an explanation ... your guess is as good as mine ... I'd have better luck in the driver's license office.

The tech just came back on the phone ... "I've made a note and they will call you with an update, your account is suspended and under review" ... really? You'd think I would get notified if my account was suspended. This is bad ... this is really really bad.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

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# 8
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Another update here on 12/10/2015 ... still no resolution. I'm trying to add 228 HP Ink Jet cartridges to my store and the most I've seen "active" is around 50. It's 46 right now ... which is bizarre ... if you leave the feed alone Google will go through and disapprove a few and approve a few ... disapprove ... and approve ... some kind of cycle going on here.

I've been through a couple of more techs ... the iteration process is very lengthy ... especially when the techs don't know what's going on either but they feel compelled to give you some direction ... something to "try". The last tech was at least honest ... "Your data feed is being processed by a computer and I do not have access to that system so that I can tell you why your products are being disapproved ... However, maybe you could try this ...". <sigh>

So now the "hunch" is that the disapproval may have something do with the Title and/or Description. HP Ink Jet cartridges do in fact look a lot alike on a spreadsheet ... Titles can be identical except for the color ... and the descriptions of every colored cartridge for specific printers will be the same (e.g., "This cartridge fits the following printers"). I have been asked to "add a little text to each title and description" know ... to help Google's program differentiate between the products ... really?!? I'll try anything at this point.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor
first, thank you for the continued updates.

one possibility is to take a set of products that
are identical except for color, add a color attribute
with a proper color value, an item_group_id with
an identical item_group_id value for each item
in the group, and add some clarification within
the title and description -- the results may help
pinpoint the issue -- related to variants that fit
multiple or specific printers, for example.

ink cartridges, variants, and designated brands,
all have separate policy requirements -- so, one
disapproval message can be for multiple issues,
which can complicate any guidance or resolution.

Re: Another "disapprove or invalid" scenario in Google Merch

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# 10
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Celebird ... thanks for the input. I think the continued updates are just my way of documenting what I'm going through ... sometimes typing it out helps me realize something I had not thought of before. The tone of the message could use some work but this is really frustrating ... so you'll have to forgive me for being a butt-head.

I actually did something similar to what you recommended as well. I took a small subset and provided a description that helped differentiate between the two products. I hate to do anything else to the title since it is pretty specific (e.g., HP 11 Black Printhead). I'm not sure what else you would add to that ... and of course not add it also to HP11 Cyan Printhead. I did not thinkin about filling in the color field ... I'm not sure why I did not think of this but I'll add it to the next go around. And I guess I should get used to using item_group_id.