Google updates Merchant Center product data specifications

Google’s product data specification requirements guarantee that all product data submitted to the Merchant Center is formatted correctly to optimize success for both Shopping ads and organic Shopping listings.

Each year, the search giant updates these specifications in a bid to try and improve shopping on its platform. The updates for 2024 have now been announced – and below is a summary of all the changes you should be aware of.

The following changes came into effect on April 9, 2024:

New product data specification attributes for AI-Generated content in Shopping ads and free listings: Google introduced new attributes that now require merchants to disclose text content created using generative AI. Moving forward, you will need to use the structured title [structured_title] attribute and the structured description [structured_description] attribute when using AI-generated titles and descriptions in your product data.

New loyalty program [loyalty_program]: You can now use the loyalty program [loyalty_program] attribute to set up member prices and loyalty points in the U.S. and Japan. Adding the attribute helps Google to accurately represent the benefits of your loyalty program (as configured on Merchant Center) across Google properties.

New minimum price [auto_pricing_min_price] attribute: You can now use the minimum price [auto_pricing_min_price] attribute to set the lowest or minimum advertised price (MAP) to which a product’s price can be reduced. Google uses this information for features such as sale price suggestions, automated discounts, and dynamic promotions.

Updated guidance on installment [installment]- based offers: Google is updating its guidance regarding the usage of the installment attribute. An offer that utilizes this attribute will be considered as one where the product can be purchased by paying the full price upfront using the price attribute or in installments. With this update, Google is expanding the installment attribute by introducing a new downpayment sub-attribute to specify if the product requires a partial upfront payment. Previously, such down payments had to be provided using the price attribute.

Additionally, Google is adding a credit type [credit_type] sub-attribute to the installment [installment] attribute specifically for Vehicle ads. This is to allow specifying whether the type of installment credit is lease [lease] or finance [finance].

New free shipping threshold [free_shipping_threshold] attribute: Marketers in all countries can now use the free shipping threshold [free_shipping_threshold] attribute to indicate the minimum order value above which shipping is free.

Updated guidance on the inclusion of government-imposed fees in the shipping [shipping] attributes: Google is updating its guidance around the usage of the shipping attribute. Don’t include government-imposed fees such as import duties, recycling fees, copyright fees, or state-specific retail delivery fees in the shipping cost.

Changes starting on July 31

Expanding the list of countries where shipping cost is required: Google is expanding the list of countries where shipping cost is required and enforced to additional countries. Offers without shipping costs will now be disapproved in these countries:

Changes starting on September 1

Pickup method [pickup_method] will be optional for Local Inventory Ads: Google is simplifying inventory handling for LIA merchants that use the pickup today or pickup later features by making pickup method [pickup_method] optional. Pickup method [pickup_method] will no longer be required to enable pickup for your offers. Learn more about the LIA inventory feed specification.

Removing energy_efficiency_class attributes: Google is deprecating the energy efficiency attributes in favor of the certification attribute certification [certification] which was launched in 2023.

Removing the use of the price [price] attribute for down payments when used in combination with the installment [installment] attribute: Google is removing support for providing downpayment using the price [price] attribute after September 1.

Why we care. Following Merchant Center guidelines, including the updates mentioned, ensures your product listings are eligible to show in search results. New attributes like loyalty programs could incentivize customers to return, while the free shipping threshold might encourage them to spend more, ultimately boosting your ROI.

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Deep dive. Read Google’s announcement in full for more information.

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