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2016 Google Merchant Center Updates Make Managing Product Errors Easier

Google has made several updates over the past year to improve the Google Merchant Center (GMC) user experience for online retailers by making it faster and easier to manage feed errors. By making it easier to identify which products must be updated to adhere to Google’s advertising policies and what product details need to be fixed, advertisers are better able to keep feeds approved and ads running.

To begin, Google started moving away from issuing account suspension warnings for price and availability discrepancies between the feed and advertiser website in mid-2016, and has opted instead to list out individual products flagged for these issues (amongst others) in the Diagnostics tab in the Merchant Center:

From here, GMC users can select to download an entire list of products with errors, or click into the blue hyperlinked numbers to view a list in the interface. This is extremely helpful for those of us who are in the Merchant Center every day as it allows easy access to the issues that are causing products to be disapproved. However, it is important to note that the intent here is mostly to provide an easier means for troubleshooting issues, and that suspension warnings can still be issued to accounts that have too many price and availability problems.

NOTE: Google will also still issue account level suspension warnings for other policy violations (e.g. promoting certain pharmaceutical products, providing non-functional destination URLs, etc.), and can allow as little as seven days to correct these issues or remove affected products before an account suspension kicks in.

In addition, there is now the option to filter by product destination in the Diagnostics tab, which allows for GMC users to much more easily distinguish between issues affecting Shopping, Dynamic Remarketing, Purchases on Google, Local Inventory Ads, etc.:

Furthermore, Google started allowing advertisers to request a manual review of products that are disapproved through the Products tab in the Merchant Center (shown below). This is preferable to account level suspensions, though manually going product by product to request re-reviews can be a bit time consuming depending on how many policy violations you have in your account.

One change that’s been rolled out quietly in just the past couple of weeks is that Google has begun providing more context than they were previously around which policies an offending product violates by listing those on the product page in the GMC for some products. While no formal announcement accompanied this change, it’s an update we at Merkle have been requesting for some time.

Providing this context is extremely helpful in terms of troubleshooting errors, as we previously got no insight into what policy a product violated and there was a bit of guess and check work to submitting updates and then requesting manual reviews. Thus, we are glad to see this update as a follow-up to the move away from account suspensions for pricing and availability issues.

All of these updates have made troubleshooting a bit more simplified from a feed management perspective, and have helped to mitigate some concerns of receiving account suspensions during major holidays or promotional periods where prices and availability will be constantly changing.