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Out of all the product identifiers used for Google Shopping, GTIN is king. It’s arguably the most talked about identifier around and has been known to cause many headaches for online retailers over the past few years as Google began tightening GTIN requirements.

Regardless, it is a necessary evil that online retailers must tackle if they want to see results from their shopping ads.

We’ve rounded up important GTIN information to give you the low-down on the ever-so-talked about attribute and why it should matter to you and your listings.

What is a GTIN?

GTIN, short for Global Trade Identification Number, uniquely identifies trade items, products or services.

There are various types of ID numbers that fall under GTIN. These include:

UPC (Universal Product Code)

  • Used primarily in North America
  • 12 digits

EAN (European Article Number)

  • Used primarily outside North America
  • 13 digits

JAN (Japanese Article Number)

  • Used only in Japan
  • 8 or 13 digits

ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

  • Used for Books
  • Used Globally
  • ISBN-10: 10 digits. This was depreciated in 2007 and not all books can be represented by this.
  • ISBN-13: 13 digits

ITF-14

  • Used for Multipacks
  • 14 digits

Check out more details on each of these ID numbers here.

GTIN Requirements

Google now requires GTINs for all new products where a GTIN is assigned by the manufacturer.

If you’re product requires a GTIN, you must also submit the brand attribute. MPN is recommended but not mandatory.

The GTINs submitted to Google must follow the guidelines defined in the official GS1 validation guide.

Products that come in multiple variations such as color or size should have their own GTIN value assigned to them. For example, if you are selling a shirt that comes in red and blue, both shirts should have a unique GTIN.  

Locating a GTIN

GTINs are usually found on the barcode on the product packaging or book cover. If you can’t locate the product GTIN, you should reach out to your product manufacturer. For more assistance on where to find the GTIN, refer to Google’s help article.

Benefits of Using GTINs

There’s a reason why GTINs are such a talked about attribute-- they actually help improve your ads.

The more relevant information that you add to your product ads, the more likely you are to appear in relevant searches. GTINs help Google to better classify your products in their catalog and get them in front of the right shoppers. This leaves more potential for conversions.

While the process of locating your product’s GTINs may seem like a headache at first, it can pay off in places outside the world of Google Shopping. This includes helping you list more effectively on marketplace giants such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart.  

Products without GTINs

Not all products may have a GTIN assigned to them. According to Google, these may include:

  • Store brand products
  • Replacement products
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or replacements for OEM parts
  • Custom-made products such as custom t-shirts
  • Books released before ISBN was approved as an ISO standard in 1970
  • Vintage or antique products

If your product does not have a GTIN assigned, you’ll want to submit both the brand and mpn attributes instead.

On the flip side, if you don’t submit a GTIN for a product that requires one, expect to receive errors in your Merchant Center account. Be sure to carefully read over Google’s GTIN requirements before submitting without the attribute.

Conclusion

GTINs play a key role not only in Google Shopping feed optimization, but in the world of online retailing. While it may seem like a pain to round up all of your GTINs now, your listings will thank you later.