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Merchant Feed "identifier_exists" needs to be reworked

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# 1
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I am writing to report a requirement bug relating to the identifier_exists attribute in the Google merchant feed.

Media items seem to require a GTIN, brand, and MPN. The documentation says that if none of these exist, we should add the attribute "
identifier_exists" with a value of false. Our company has media items that *do* have an MPN and a brand, but no UPC or EAN. Supplying the MPN and Brand and leaving "identifier_exists" off, results in an error saying that it is missing a required field, GTIN.

Since there is no GTIN, we set
"identifier_exists" to false for that item. When we do this, we now get a warning which reads, "When product identifiers are provided 'identifier_exists' should be set to true or not set at all. Setting identifier_exists to false when product identifiers actually exist might impact ranking of an item in the future."

So what is the correct way to denote an item that has some identifiers, but not ALL the identifies that Google wants for the item's category? It seems that "identifier_exists" should be changed to "gtin_exists", because almost every item has an MPN and a brand (a company can simply make up their own name and MPN), but smaller manufacturers don't provide GTINs because they cost thousands of dollars to register.

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Merchant Feed "identifier_exists" needs to be reworked

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

(1) only a manufacturer can assign global-trade-data (mpn, brand, gtin).


e.g. only apple can assign a valid mpn, brand, or gtin to an apple ipad.

(2) google only wants global-trade-data to be submitted
if the values currently exist, are valid, and have been
properly assigned, by the manufacturer, to the exact
item being sold.


if valid, required, global-trade-data currently exists then,

the valid, required, global-trade-data must be submitted.

(3) global-trade-data (mpn, gtin, brand) cannot be self-assigned by merchants.

generally, self-assigning global-trade-data is a policy violation
and is grounds for items being removed from the auctions,
disapproval, or account suspension, at any time.

google never wants global-trade-data that does not currently
exist and has not already been assigned by a manufacturer.

(4) manufacturers (nor merchants) are never, ever, required
to purchase any global-trade-data, whatsoever, for any item --
that is the primary purpose of identifier_exists.

(5) for each type (category) of item, google has
both (a) required global-trade-data values
and (b) recommended global-trade-data values.

for example, for apparel clothing items, only a valid brand is required;
for example, for media items, only a valid gtin is required;
for example, for most other types of items, any two valid values are required;
currently, google never requires mpn, but mpn is always recommended --
assuming a valid value has been assigned by the manufacturer, to the item.

therefore, if none of the *required* values exist --
then, google requires that identifier_exists be
submitted with a value of FALSE and no other
global-trade-data should be submitted.

what is critical is the *required* values for the type of item.

media items require only a gtin.


so, media items that *do* have valid mpn and brand,
but no gtin (upc, ean, isbn, jan) -- must be submitted
with an identifier_exists value of FALSE


normally, if identifier_exists is FALSE for an item then, all global-trade-data
should simply not be submitted, at all, for that item -- the values left empty
(entirely blank) -- and all related warnings or errors must simply be ignored;
currently, google's processing is simply not robust enough to differentiate
the exact type of item from the corresponding required global-trade-data.

if the manufacturer has assigned *valid* global-trade-data to *recommended*
values then those values may be submitted, regardless of identifier_exists --
but recommended values may be ignored with respect to identifier_exists.

the merchant's brand-identifier is supplied via the
account-settings -- not the submitted data feed.

see also