Want to start a Google Ads Shopping campaign but don’t understand why you need to submit a GTIN and an MPN? All the jargon is too confusing and you want someone to walk you through the process.
That’s what I’m here for. By the time you’ve finished reading this article you will increase your knowledge of:
- Why you need GTINs and MPNs
- Where to find a GTIN and MPN in:
- How to fix GTINs/MPNs disapprovals in Google Merchant Centre
Glossary of key terms related to MPNs and GTINs
Google Shopping and online marketing jargon got you stumped? Brush up on your Google Shopping marketing lingo with this list of commonly used terms:
GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is essentially a fancy word for a barcode. Barcodes are authorised numbers unique to a product. This allows Google (and other businesses) to identify what the product is.
For instance, look at the shirt you’re wearing. If you haven’t removed the tag then you’ll find a long string of numbers on the tag. This is a barcode (GTIN). If you find another shirt in that exact same colour, size, brand etc, then it will also have the same number. This number allows search engines to recognise the same products.
This is the Manufacturers Part Number. There’s no formal way to write or produce an MPN. It is generally created by the product’s manufacturer. The MPN itself is usually a unique string of numbers/letters that the manufacturer puts together to generate different MPNS. In our experience, most online stores will simply use the internal SKU number (Stock Keeping Unit) field as the MPN if they need one.
Stock Keeping Unit, or as we like to call it, product identifier. Most businesses use their own internal SKU number to identify inventory levels or for internal purposes. It’s typically a number that your CMS (Customer Management System) creates as you upload new products.
This is your Customer Management System. Common platforms our clients use include:
Google Merchant Centre
Google Merchant Centre is an online platform that allows you to upload your ecommerce store’s product data to use on Google’s organic and paid product listings.
If you’re an ecommerce store who isn’t utilising Google Merchant Centre (aka Google Shopping ads) then you’re missing out on some big revenue opportunities! Get in touch with our Gorilla team to help get you kick started.
Do I really need GTINs and MPNs?
Your products won’t show up in Google Shopping or other search engines if you do not have accurate GTINs or MPNs.
Google uses unique product identifiers (UPI) to uniquely identify products regardless of who is selling them. The UPIs used by Google are GTINs and MPNs.
Here’s a simple explanation from Google’s support team about unique product identifiers:
Your product data feeds need to be Google Approved for your products to show to customers on Google Ads.
To have your feed approved, you need to submit the following information:
A GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and Brand.
A brand name and the MPN (Manufacturer Part Number)
NOTE: If there is a GTIN barcode then you MUST use it. The MPN and Brand name will likely get disapproved if a GTIN exists.
Simply put, here are the reasons behind using GTINs and MPNs
- Unique product identifiers (UPIs) allow search engines to match products with search queries
- They make product comparisons more accurate
- They enable online platforms to display ads for products based on a user’s browsing behaviour
- For other platforms such as eBay, the MPN helps to ensure product listings contain the right information– so technical specifications and product information can auto-populate
Let’s say you’re an ecommerce store that sells Lego and you want to start a shopping campaign to advertise your Lego sales. When customers search for your Lego products, Google will use its algorithms (and your product feed data) to show them the relevant products based on your GTINs and MPNs.
GTINs (Global Trade Item Number)
Whether we know it or not we all come into contact with GTINs in our daily lives; they’re on every item we buy.
What is a GTIN?
GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number and is simply another name for a barcode, specifically the numbers that appear at the base of a barcode. GTINs are unique eight, 12, 13 or 14-digit codes used to accurately identify products online, in comparison shopping engines/product marketplaces like Amazon listings and Google, and in retail stores.
Google has a database containing most of the world’s GTINs. When you include a product’s GTIN in your Merchant Centre Feed, Google can instantly identify all the product’s specifications. However, this also means Google will know when the wrong identifier is included and it can disapprove the product. Using the same GTINs allows Google to match customers searches and be able to show users the same product that’s available in multiple stores.
GTIN alternatives in America and Europe
Be aware that in the United States you sometimes won’t see GTINs used in a product data feed. In some cases, a GTIN is called a UPC number (Universal Product Code) while in Europe, it’s called an EAN (European Article Number). It is a unique ID according to international standards. This means, for some product feeds, instead of there being a label called GTIN, you will see another name, that being, UPC in America and EAN in Europe.
Where can I find a GTIN?
The easiest way to find a GTIN is to locate it on the physical product label. However, if you don’t have this handy there are other options. You can get in touch with the supplier or look it up online using barcode search services.
What if you don’t have a GTIN?
If a GTIN or barcode doesn’t exist, use the MPN and the Brand Name. MPNs are unique product identifiers the manufacturer makes. Therefore, the ‘brand attribute’ will allow you to use the brand of your product as the unique product identifier.
Note: only use the MPN and Brand if there is no GTIN available.
IMPORTANT: If you don’t submit a GTIN and there is one available for the product, then your product can be disapproved.
Here are some example products that may not have GTIN codes and use product identifiers and brand instead include:
- Store brand products
- Replacement parts
- Original equipment manufacturer parts
- Custom-made goods (custom t-shirts, art, and handmade products)
- Books released before ISBN was approved as an ISO standard in 1970
- Antique products
Want to double-check your GTIN is correct?
Here’s a link to a calculator that will check the digit to make sure it’s composed correctly.
If you’ve ever used comparison shopping engines like Amazon Listings, eBay or Google Shopping, chances are, you’ve come across MPNs.
What is an MPN?
An MPN stands for Manufacturer Part Number – a unique alphanumeric code used by manufacturers to identify each of their product listings. MPNs can be any length from 1 to 70 characters and are used globally to uniquely link the product to its manufacturer.
Where to find MPN
You’ve probably come across MPN numbers and product identifiers plenty of times without realising it before, when purchasing certain products, browsing manufacturers catalogues and in comparison shopping engines and marketplaces, like Google Shopping.
You can find an official or correct manufacturer part number MPN in the following places:
- On the product itself – Most of the time, the accurate MPN is listed on the side or bottom of the product or packaging. The number is likely to be listed next to the product title: Part Number
- Contacting the product part manufacture – ask for the MPN or Product Part Number for the item you need
- In catalogues — you can look up the correct MPN in manufacturers catalogues and magazines
- Online product descriptions and on the product details — you’ll find MPNs listed in product descriptions on ecommerce websites and comparison sites like eBay and Google Shopping.
If you do not have an MPN number and a GTIN doesn’t exist, then you can use the SKU as the MPN. An SKU number is applied automatically when you upload new products to your store.
What are the exceptions to including an MPN?
If you already have a GTIN in your product feed, then the MPN isn’t mandatory. However, if you don’t have a GTIN then you must have an MPN and the brand name of the product.
What to do if you don’t have an MPN
Every product listed in Google needs either an MPN or a GTIN. If you don’t have an MPN then you will need to state the GTIN for the product.
For every product your options are:
- Include a GTIN
- Include an MPN and the Brand name
How to add GTINs and MPNs in Shopify
Shopify, is one of the most widely used online platforms for ecommerce stores. The platform offers a free Google Shopping integration as well as several paid Google Shopping plugins to help customise your data feed.
How to add GTINs/MPNs/Brand to Shopify one-by-one
#1. Log into Shopify and navigate to products → all products
#2. Click on the product you want to add a GTIN or MPN to
#3. Option one: Add the GTIN under the inventory section of the product
Option two: Add the brand and MPN to the product
Here’s a quick video explainer on how to add Brands, GTINs and MPNs to Shopify.
See below for a visual example of where to include a GTIN in Shopify.
Brand and SKU (SKU numbers, can sometimes be used as an MPN).
Note: If you do want to use the SKU field as the MPN, you will generally need to set up a product data feed rule in either the Google Shopping Feed or Merchant Centre to pass the SKU through as the MPN.
See below for an example of where to include the MPN. Generally, we would use the SKU numbers as the MPN in Shopify.
Depending on the shopping plugin you’re using, you may also be able to add the MPN to a custom MPN column.
In the example below, we used the free Google Shopping Channel. In this case, click “more actions” and enter the MPN into the Manufacturer Part Number field.
Please note, your version of Shopify may look different depending on how your website has been set up and the plugin you’re using (we use the Shopify App Store).
Contact your web developer if you are having trouble finding the appropriate section. The product page may need to be configured to include all the fields.
HINT: Don’t worry if you can’t get the specific GTIN, Brand and MPN fields added to your Shopify site. You can use the Simprosys Google Shopping Feed for greater control over what fields Google classifies as Brand, GTIN and MPN.
How to add GTINs/MPNs/Brand to Shopify in bulk
Save yourself time by uploading products, GTINs, MPNs and the brand field in bulk to your Shopify store.
- First, navigate to the products section of your Shopify store.
- On the products header panel, click Export to export your products.
- Create an Export of all your products.
- Amend the appropriate field.
- Import the feed, back to your Shopify store
- Spot check a few individual products within Shopify to ensure the amended fields are imported correctly.
Here’s a video on the process of uploading Brand, GTIN and MPN numbers in bulk.
Preferred App for Google Shopping using Shopify
There are several apps on the market and although it’s enticing to go with the free Google Shopping App (like in the screenshots above) you will have a lot more flexibility to improve your shopping feed (and results) by using a paid app.
- Simprosys Google Shopping Feed: A major advantage of this paid app is that you can use it for both Google, Facebook (Meta) and Microsoft feeds. This app allows you to easily set up promotions, customise product tiles, descriptions and other product attributes.
How to add GTINs and MPNs in Maropost (Formly, Neto)
Maropost Commerce Cloud (formerly Neto), is an effective ecommerce platform to house online stores, POS terminals and more.
Maropost’s free Google Shopping integrates seamlessly giving you ample control over your feed without having to spend a dime on a paid plugin.
How to add GTINs/MPNs/Brands in Maropost one-by-one
Follow these instructions to add GTINs, MPNs and the Brand to your Maropost CMS one-by-one.
#1. Log into Maropost and navigate to products → view products
#2. Click on the product you want to add a GTIN or MPN number
#3. Option one: Add the GTIN under the inventory section in the product
Option two: Add the brand and MPN in the product feed
If you know your GTIN:
Scroll down to warehouse and picking:
Your GTIN is the label marked: UPC/EAN. See below for a visual.
If you know the brand and MPN:
Type the brand name under ‘brand’. You will likely have to get a developer to configure the MPN field. For the time being, ensure to include an SKU (stock keeping unit). An SKU can sometimes be used as an MPN. See below for an example.
Please note, your version of Maropost may look different depending on how your website has been set up. Contact your web developer if you are having trouble finding the appropriate section. The feed may need to be configured to include all fields.
How to add GTINs/MPNs/Brand in bulk in Maropost
Populating the Brand, GTIN and/or MPN field for tens, hundreds even thousands of products is a tedious task. To speed up the process, complete an export of your Marpost feed, update the required fields and import the amended feed back into Maropost.
Here’s a quick video to run you through the process.
Preferred Maropost Google Shopping Add-on
The best Marpost Google Shopping plugin is the free add-on itself!
This add-on allows you to easily map Google’s required fields from your products to the Google Shopping feed.
MPNs are included automatically in your Neto feed and read the SKU field as the MPN. If the MPN assigned is not in the SKU field then you’ll simply need to reconfigure the feed to use the field you are using in Neto.
How to add GTINs and MPNs in WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform built on WordPress, allowing you to be visible for product listings.
How to add GTINs, MPN numbers and Brands in WooCommerce one-by-one
Here’s a quick video explainer on how to add the Brand, GTINs and MPNs to Woocommerce.
#1. Log into WooCommerce and navigate to Settings → Product
#2. Click on the product you want to add a GTIN or MPN. By default, WooCommerce does not have a field for GTINs. To add the GTIN field for your UPC, EAN or ISBN number, you can either use a plugin or custom code. Contact your web developer to enable this.
#3. Option one: Add the GTIN under the inventory section of the product
Option two: Add the brand and MPN to the product
Once you have navigated to your product, fill in the GTIN field or the MPN and brand fields.
Please note, the step by step GTIN images provided below can look different depending on the plugin you’re using. The below example uses a WordPress plugin. Contact your web developer if you are having trouble finding the appropriate section. The feed may need to be configured to include all the appropriate fields.
See below for a visual representation of where to add the MPN. You have two options. You can add the MPN to the SKU section or the Manufacturer Part Number section.
How to add GTINs/MPNs/Brand to WooCommerce in bulk
Save yourself hours of manual work uploading GTINs, MPNs and Brand to your WooCommerce store by populating the fields in bulk. Watch our video here to find out how.
Here’s how to bulk upload product data to WooCommerce:
- Create an export of your current product list as a CSV
- Populate or amend the required fields
- Import the CSV file back into your WooCommerce store
- Spot check that the product information uploaded correctly
Preferred WooCommerce plugins
Most shopping plugins on WooCommerce integrate well with Google Shopping. Our preference is the paid Adtribes – Elite plugin. It also has lots of good reviews.
This plugin allows you to easily map products to their corresponding Google fields. The app also allows for product data manipulation, setting up rules and filters which are important for optimising your Google Shopping product feeds to ensure you’re maximising visibility of your products for customers.
Here’s a quick video tutorial of the Adtribes – Elite plugin.
How to add GTINs and MPNs in Magento
Magento is an open-source store. Ecommerce stores who require a high level of customisation may opt for this platform due to its flexibility, and ability to easily integrate third-party add-ons.
How to add GTINs/MPNs and Brands in Magento one-by-one
How to insert GTIN and MPNs in Magento 2:
#1. Log into Magento and navigate to catalogue → manage products
#2. Click on the product you want to add a GTIN or MPN
#3. Option one: Add the GTIN under the inventory section of the product feed
Option two: Add the brand and MPN to the product feed
Brand and SKU (an SKU can sometimes be used as an MPN, basically SKU means stock keeping unit).
Please note, your CMS may look different to these examples depending on how your website has been set up. Contact your web developer if you are having trouble finding the appropriate section. The feed may need to be configured to include all the fields.
Magento’s Rocket Webs Extension is highly customisable and allows you to easily map your product attributes to Google’s required attributes.
Here’s a quick look at the Rocket Webs Extensions using the Magento 1 platform.
GTIN Merchant Centre Disapprovals
Learning about GTINs, MPNs and all the other online marketing lingo is the easy part.
You’ve completed all the above steps. You’ve added the GTIN and the Brand and Merchant Centre has added a warning (or disapproval) sign next to your product listing. What does this mean?
In the next section, we’ll take you through a quick tutorial of Merchant Centre and how to tell the difference between a disapproval and warning.
What’s the difference between a Merchant Centre disapproval and a warning?
A disapproval in Merchant Centre means the product listing is not eligible to run.
A warning means the product is still eligible to run, however Google recommends optimising the product to help increase visibility and sales.
3 reasons my GTINs may be disapproved in Merchant Centre
One of the most common reasons products get disapproved in Merchant Centre is due to GTINs issues.
Unlike product warnings (e.g warnings to improve your product titles), you want to pay particular attention to product disapprovals as these products are not eligible for Google Shopping.
In plain English, you could be losing hundreds or thousands of dollars from your products simply not being eligible to show on ads.
Here are a few common reasons GTINs get disapproved and how to fix them.
1. You have used the incorrect barcode
Lookout for the following signs to identify you may have used the wrong GTIN:
- Your GTIN contains characters that aren’t numerals
- Have you used your MPN/SKU by mistake?
- Your barcode isn’t 13-characters long
- Barcodes can be 4, 13, 12 or 8 digits, but we most commonly see 13 digits in Australia.
2. You have made up your own GTIN
Only use official GTINs and do not make up your own. If a GTIN doesn’t exist, then the safer option is to use the MPN and Brand.
An example of where you can buy official barcodes is at Barcodes Australia.
3. A GTIN for your product already exists
If your product is sold in other retail stores, chances are a GTIN already exists. Use tools like Barcode Lookup or simply Google the product to see if you can track down the official GTIN.
3 ways to fix GTINs disapprovals in Merchant Centre
Improving your Google Merchant Centre feed health is an easy way to improve performance and sales. Below we’ve outlined three ways to help fix disapproved GTINs to get more products showing in your shopping feed!
Add GTINs to your product feed
If a GTIN exists for your product, ensure your Google Product Feed maps the correct barcode field from your CMS to the Merchant Centre.
Feed rules: configure to read a custom rule
This part is a little advanced. If you’ve noticed you have GTINs but they’re pulling through to the wrong field (e.g they’re pulling through as an SKU or Custom Field) then you can use feed rules to manipulate product fields and tell Google to read a certain field as the GTIN.
Learn more about Google Merchant feed rules here.
Create a supplementary feed outlining the GTIN
Occasionally, there is no easy way to take the GTIN field from your website and in these cases, the quick fix can be to create a supplementary feed which contains the ID and GTIN
To create this feed, navigate to Feeds > Supplementary Feeds > Add a supplementary feed.
Here you will be able to create a new feed and update it using a Google sheet.
Once you get your head around all the acronyms, configuring your ecommerce website with MPNs and GTINs is relatively straightforward and when done correctly ensures your customer can easily find your products online.