Google Merchant - Feed - Accessability
This is more of an open letter to Google in regard to their Merchant Feed.
As a digital agency with a digital marketing team we want to offer all we can for our clients. For eCommerce clients the google feed is a great feature they wish to have.
Though one Adobe CMS we developed an app (A Plugin Basically but called apps int his Adobe system) for clients to create the XML file they need for their feed.
We have several issues but the increasing problems are the changed being made by google in terms of the feed requirements. Changes happen in anything and keeping a plugin or app up to date is and will always be a thing but we feel google is just going too far with their merchant feed on several levels.
As a developer it is very hard to keep up and understand the documentation about feed changes. It is not clear when changes are done, some are not announced but you can clearly see variations in the documentation. When a feed is submitting, stops and google identifies issues and you look back at the documentation which says it requires different to what your code has in place - You know its changed.
This is very frustrating and as we did some digging and a lot of wordpress plugins, features on systems like Big Commerce - A lot either worked or just do not work any more and require changes, or clearly did work or now do not.
There will be people out there with working applications and plugins but we feel this is increasingly becoming too costly, time consuming and inaccessible to achieve.
To look to have a plugin or app that works internationally is incredibly challenging just for such a small thing, I am not talking about the code, but just the requirements, variations and checks you have to do on all that. When you consider clients managing products through a CMS and then trying to form a feed through to google in this space it is getting pretty crazy!
I understand tight requirements but I believe google is just going to far from this, especially when other avenues of data management, information etc are doing the opposite and being more accessible, Tag manager for example. (More on this later).
The other main issue is for our customers. For Small to Medium business it is vital they do well on google and they do pump a lot of money into this already, having your products show for eCommerce clients can be an effective thing for them so they of course want that.
With that though the requirements and every increasing requirements of the Merchant Feed just makes it not possible for many small to medium businesses. The Identifiers MPN, GITN, brand, the attributes and colours, shipping information.. Not many small to medium businesses actually have the information, in many cases these companies have their own products, their site may be the only source they sell them... In fact this is an ever increasing aspect of the web - Startups and companies selling their unique products direct to customers through their website. People simply struggle to maintain their products and the information google needs, so to with the CMS - Not all CMS's can have the fields and information in the way google wants so clients being able to provide the information is increasingly hard. If a business uses a SAAS system this is very close to impossible for many.
For clients wanting a merchant feed - For them in terms of what google needs and to maintain it and also change their products when google wants yet more information is one of the hardest and stressful things they have to do in terms of feedback from them to us!
We wanted to also check and see on all this. We did some digging across the web and we can see many developer frustrations out there but a lot of people just seem to not bother, give up. People looking to have feeds you can find old google groups, posts on forums around web where people just do not respond to questions looking on how to achieve this.
It just seems everyone is just a bit lost around this space because google is increasingly making hard and hard to find out what to do about it.
We are located in Australia and we also spent some time going through products that do show up on google. Overwhelmingly the products showing are all on eBay. The google merchant feed system just seems to be a service to serve eBay and nothing else. The solution for many small to medium companies is to not only have their site but also put their business and products through eBay which in turn go through to the merchant feed via eBay.
In fact, there are more and easier processes through eBay to feed product data via the API to eBay which then can produce the feed for google Merchant!
Trying to find home grown, small business unique products through google shop is all but non-existent and we know why!
As a Digital Agency we love Google Tag Manager. It does many great things and we can see lots more potential with it as well.
Through the DataLayer we can see how it can be easier for CMS's and developers alike to feed merchant data through the DataLayer rather then anything else and we wish and hope this becomes an option for the Merchant Feed.
With this though we feel Google needs to make some serious changes to their feed. They at least to have a simpler approach, option and at least and introduction format for small to medium businesses who will and ARE struggling to provide all the data google is asking.
Ok, if you provide more you may rank better maybe something you do, but you need a means for people to get their foot in the door, something more accessible requiring less strict rules and data people struggle to provide and developers to create.
What we feel you would find is increased access to this part of google and a lot more entry.
We would love google to engage a bit more and the community to not vent their frustrations but offer a more collated response to google on their issues and concerns.
Google Merchant - Feed - Accessability[ Edited ]
October 2016 - last edited October 2016
Interesting perspective on the changing Google Shopping Merchant Center feed requirements. fyi I can't speak for Google of course, but I'm pretty sure the reason for a lot of the recent changes boil down to legal concerns. Google has likely found some potential exposure which they are trying to cover. It does create a lot of churn.
I have setup and optimized a few dozen Google Shopping campaigns, and the lack of up to date information is surprising. I recently searched for an up-to-date book about Google Shopping (not the old PLA stuff), but as far as I could tell there isn't a single book published yet.
Try designing and managing a 3-campaign optimization (multi priority overlapped campaigns) with 20,000 products while juggling filtered Merchant Center feeds, product groups, and ad groups then tell me a BOOK isn't needed!
Re: Google Merchant - Feed - Accessability[ Edited ]
October 2016 - last edited October 2016
(1) google reads the forums but more direct feedback may be given here:
(2) what has mainly changed with respect to disapprovals or suspensions
is the much more strict enforcement of existing rules and specifications,
across a wider range of target-countries --
(3) most related changes are announced in google's official blog and here:
(4) global-trade-data (gtin, brand, mpn) are mainly legal designations,
assigned by the manufacturer -- all merchants selling the same item
are required to submit identical global-trade-data for those items,
if the data currently exists.
all items submitted must be in the merchant's possession and valid
global-trade-data is typically stamped directly on the product or
package, at the factory, by the manufacturer --
(5) global-trade-data is not, and has never been, required
for items that do not have any global-trade-data assigned
by the manufacturer -- simply submit identifier_exists FALSE
and do not submit any global-trade-data (brand, gtin, mpn)
data whatsoever, for such items.
(6) there are both advantages and disadvantages to using a third-party
or marketplace venues -- generally, as was indicated, submitting data
is easier since the marketplaces tend to use the api to submit data at
scale, automatically, while keeping up with any changes, and the data
automation may be coupled with bid automation across large numbers
of merchants; however, there also tends to be far less control over data
quality and ad-auction-bids with respect to individual merchants.