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Google Merchant Center Updates Make Feed Testing and Other Tasks Simpler

Google introduced a new user experience in the Feeds tab of the Google Merchant Center (GMC) this August.  These new updates bring more functionality to the Feeds tab and overall have been found to be beneficial, though it may take some time to acclimate to the new layout.

Key Enhancements to the New Feeds Experience:

1) Streamlined Feed Testing

In January 2018, Google will rid the GMC of the ability to upload a test feed.  Historically, in order to run a test feed the user would go through the same process as setting up an actual feed, but would designate it as a test feed.  Rather than creating and running test feeds, users will now run tests of the real feed in a few easy steps:

  • Click the 3-dot icon on the right side of the page on the Feeds tab
  • Select ‘upload input file’
  • Select the file
  • Check ‘Upload as test’
  • And, finally, upload the file

This is an improvement as the user will not have to ensure the settings are the same across feeds when setting up tests, as was the case prior.

GMC Feed Test

2) More Access to Previous Feed Uploads

Google now allows users to access the past ten feed uploads, compared to a previous maximum of five.  The advantage of this new feature is that, in lieu of downloading an old feed and re-uploading it into the GMC, reprocessing a feed is only a click away as long as it is one of the last five feeds uploaded.  Simply select the feed that you want to re-upload, click the 3-dot icon, and click “Re-process feed.”

3) Options for Primary and Supplemental Feeds

The addition of the primary and supplemental feeds will be most impactful for advertisers who may not have access to a feed management platform.  While this does not affect us here at Merkle (because of our current capabilities), it allows advertisers the ability to provide supplemental data by joining on the ID to the existing information in the primary feed.

For example, it is now possible to add GTIN’s or flag products as ‘best sellers’ by joining a supplemental feed to the primary feed via product ID’s for those brands which cannot create a single feed containing all the necessary information.  With this new addition, it appears that Google is attempting to provide some of the typical features available from a specialized feed management optimizer to the built-in functionality of the merchant center.

4) Ability to Submit One Feed to Multiple Countries

Previously, retailers running separate PLA feeds for multiple countries had to upload a separate feed for each locale. The new feed experience allows for a multi-country feed containing multiple languages and countries within one file. For advertisers selling to a variety of countries, this feature will help reduce the number of feeds requiring management and simplify setup in the Merchant Center.

For a comprehensive list of the full feeds experience updates, click this link to Google Support

Additional Changes to be Aware of:

  • Historically, Google would send an email to the technical contact notifying the advertiser when a new feed has uploaded to the GMC.  Now, Google will only send an email if the number of valid items in the feed drops by 5%.  In the past, if the technical contact did not receive an email, it means there was no feed upload.  Today, it could mean there was no feed uploaded, or the feed that was uploaded is within the 5% threshold for valid products not dropping out of the feed.  The only way to ensure a feed ran properly is to log into the GMC daily to check the status of a feed upload.
  • To find the timestamp of when a feed was uploaded to Google, advertisers must click into Product > Feeds > then select the Primary Feed.  The upload time will be listed for the 10 available feeds. Historically the timestamp was visible immediately after clicking into the feeds tab of GMC, but marketers must now select a specific feed in order to see this information.

While the overall new feeds experience may be frustrating at first, the enhancements Google has provided are proving to be beneficial.  With enough exposure to the new experience coupled with the Google support article above, the transition through the new experience should be relatively seamless.