SVP, Partnerships + GTM - One of the original founding members of the S&O team, Tony oversees strategic partner development and go-to-market planning for our Channel, Technology, and Agency partnerships.
Google quietly released yet another somewhat substantial change for Google Merchant Center data quality policies - this time focusing on the MPN or Manufacturers Part Number attribute.
Though not that all too surprising to see more policy changes for Google Merchant Center, this one does come after a slew of announcements from Google stating various "relaxing" of select policies.
One such relaxation was for the policy surrounding "Insufficient payment information" earlier this summer where the policy change reads:
"Beginning June 28, 2021, Merchants will no longer be required to provide their accepted payment methods on their website to customers before the checkout process. Merchants will still need to make sure at least one conventional payment method is available to customers during checkout."
These announcements often fly so far under the radar that ecommerce merchants are rarely able to catch them, let alone prepare and address them quickly enough.
Changes to MPN Enforcement - Google Merchant Center
The MPN attribute has long since been regarded as a "required attribute" when submitting a product feed to Google Merchant Center.
However, the requirement aspect is only for products with identifiable GTINs where a known Manufacturers Part Number would also be given to any particular product. GTIN or Global Trade Item Number is actually a classification of attributes which can be any of: UPC, EAN, JAN, or ISBN.
Google, generally speaking, can only recognize both GTINs and MPNs that are issued by the manufacturer of a given product or product line.
This new MPN enforcement rule goes into effect August 2021, but product disapprovals won't begin until September 2021 as shared by Google:
"Starting in August of 2021, item-level warnings for "Incorrect product identifier [mpn]" will be issued on the Diagnostics page of your Merchant Center account. These warnings are intended to notify you that you’ve submitted an incorrect value for the MPN
[mpn] attribute for one or more of the products listed in your product data. Beginning in September of 2021, the products for which you received warnings will be disapproved. Review your Diagnostics page to see if your products are affected, and either provide a valid MPN value or clear the current incorrect value in your product data."
How to resolve MPN product disapprovals
Product feed tools, such as ours here at Sales & Orders, are able to ingest this data and send it out to Google Merchant Center. Since the store-level data is the source of truth in this case, merchants need to ensure that their product data is accurate and up to date:
- If selling brand name or manufacturer-issued products, ensure that both MPNs and GTINs are correct and formatted properly.
- If no MPN truly exists for a product, leave this value blank in your product-level data. This also means that no true GTIN would exist either.
- Merchants may still be able to leverage the identifier_exists [false] attribute in their feeds nullify where GTIN is not applicable - however this is no longer required and generally not needed anymore.
- If a product is flagged with invalid MPN or disapproved, platforms like ours allow you to nullify this field entirely which ensures Google Merchant Center registers no MPN whatsoever.
Not the only policy update for September...
As it turns out, there is another relatively major Google Merchant Center policy change that will go into full effect as of September 1st, 2021 - this one pertaining to the enforcement of availability:
"Beginning September 1, we will be replacing the “Delivery issues” policy violation with a new product data violation: Inaccurate availability (due to inconsistent availability between the landing page and checkout pages on your website)."
Truth be told here: with the large number of both relaxations and stricter enforcements as of late, we should expect there to be more as we head into the holiday selling season.
Merchants should be prepare themselves and their products by leveraging every possible tool at their disposal and any bit of news that comes out of Google Merchant Center.
It's not all gloom and doom here! There are some exciting changes and new features likely coming soon so stay tuned!