Google announces significant changes to Merchant Center product data specifications

Google announces significant changes to Merchant Center product data specifications

Google this week released its annual update to Merchant Center product data specifications. These changes are designed to improve the shopping experience for consumers and provide greater transparency for merchants.

Key updates go into effect immediately, with additional changes rolling out in July and September of this year.

Key Changes effective immediately

  • AI-Generated Content Disclosure: Merchants must now disclose the use of generative AI in product titles and descriptions using new [structured_title] and [structured_description] attributes. This aligns with Google's commitment to transparency regarding AI-generated content.
  • Loyalty Program Attribute: US and Japan-based merchants can utilize the new [loyalty_program] attribute to showcase membership benefits and loyalty points programs.
  • Minimum Advertised Price (MAP): The new [auto_pricing_min_price] attribute enables merchants to set a MAP for products, impacting features like automated discounts and sale price suggestions.
  • Installment Offers and Vehicle Ads Updates: Guidance on installment-based offers is refined, and new sub-attributes are added for clearer installment payment details, including down payments and lease/finance distinctions within Vehicle ads.
  • Free Shipping Threshold: Merchants can indicate the required spending level to qualify for free shipping using the new [free_shipping_threshold] attribute.
  • Shipping Fees: Government-imposed fees are no longer to be included in the [shipping] attribute for products.

Changes Effective July 31, 2024

  • Mandatory Shipping Cost: Merchants selling to India and New Zealand must provide shipping costs for all products, or their listings risk disapproval.

Changes Effective September 1, 2024

  • Optional Pickup Method: The [pickup_method] attribute for Local Inventory Ads (LIA) becomes optional, simplifying processes for merchants who enable "pickup today" or "pickup later" options.
  • Deprecation of Energy Efficiency Class Attributes: The [energy_efficiency_class] attributes will be removed in favor of the broader [certification] attribute, streamlining how energy efficiency ratings and other product certifications are listed.

These changes highlight a focus on transparency, particularly with regard to AI-generated content and pricing structures. Merchants need to adjust product listings to meet these new requirements to maintain visibility and ensure smooth customer transactions.

Google's updates underscore the importance for online sellers to stay current on Merchant Center specifications. Regularly checking for revisions will ensure they can optimize their listings for success across Google Shopping ads and other listings.

What is Google Merchant Center

A Centralized Product Listing Hub: Google Merchant Center is a free online platform where you can upload, store, and manage all your product data (think titles, descriptions, images, pricing, shipping details, etc.).

The Gateway to Google Shopping & More: This comprehensive product information feeds into various Google services:

  • Google Shopping Ads: Your products appear in paid product listing ads.
  • Google Shopping Tab: Your products become eligible for organic (free) listings in the dedicated shopping tab.
  • Other Google surfaces: Your products may even appear in Google Search, Images, and potentially YouTube with the right setup.

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