Over the past couple of weeks Google has made two significant changes to the way product shopping will work in the coming years.

The first, that will be a major headache for many retailers, is the enforcement of GTINs in an increasing number of territories (https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6352134).

On the one hand, this will make direct comparability in the product search more effective and for those retailers that have all the information in place it presents a great opportunity.

On the other hand, it strengthens the product catalogue – and bids on top placements to retain visibility can only go up. Retailers have to look to ensure data quality and consistency, as well as making sure marketing messages and promotional content are all given maximum visibility.

It is important to remember that this is predominantly aimed at comparable products, so some categories like apparel or groceries will be mostly unaffected. You must however always include a unique product identifier. For reference please check out this link: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/160161?hl=en-GB&ref_topic=6244294.

The second is the reduction of visibility of the traditional Google AdWords real estate (source: http://strongautomotive.com/adwords-update-reduces-ad-space/) on the search page. Again, it is the common opinion that the remaining real estate will now become heavily competed and expensive. Long tail campaigns will certainly need to become more prevalent and successful.

For business models that focus on buying generic keywords, niche keywords or product-specific keywords to drive volume to product shopping sites this will have a very detrimental effect, as even these niches will now become contested ground.

Over the past years the industry has witnessed a certain correction in the product price comparison landscape. Once dominant players have, through a series of algorithm updates and weighting of the quality of the content of aggregators, lost most of their market share.

This ultimately means that manufacturers and retailers alike will have to rethink their strategy. They will have to make sure that the Google PLA feed is as effective as possible and that all GTIN information is included as per Google guidelines.

It is now more vital than ever to translate as much of the campaign strategy into the feeds, have the labels optimised for performance, and bid effectively. To define bestsellers and poor converters, and to blacklist bad performers. Consider your alternatives to Google or other channels to market.

Speak to us today about how to merge external GTIN data into your feeds and how to create an effective AdWords feed in cooperation with your search agency to make these changes work to your advantage, and to identify alternative advertising partners.