Unique product identifiers

When you provide an ‘id’ for your product, that ‘id’ is unique for your account and keeps track of your product in your AdWords campaigns. But you should also provide unique products identifiers that define the product you’re selling in the global marketplace. When you provide unique product identifiers, we can make your ads richer and easier for users to find. 

Here's a list of the unique product identifiers you may have to provide:

  • Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which include UPC (in the US), EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan), and ISBN
  • Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) can be used to identify a specific product in the 'mpn' attribute if it is accompanied by the manufacturer's brand name in the 'brand' attribute
  • Brand identifies the manufacturer of the product

These products won't have unique product identifiers:

  • custom goods or one-of-a-kind items, like custom t-shirts, art, and perishables.
  • goods produced before unique product identifiers were introduced, like vintage goods, antiques, books published before 1970, and other special items.

If your products don't have unique product identifiers, use the 'identifier exists' attribute to let us know. 

Contents

Types of unique product identifiers

Name Description Location Format Feed Attribute
Universal Product Code (UPC), also called GTIN-12 and UPC-A A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily North America 12 numeric digits GTIN
European Article Number (EAN), also called GTIN-13 A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily outside of North America Typically 13 numeric digits (can occasionally be either eight or 14 numeric digits) GTIN
Japanese Article Number (JAN), also called GTIN-13 A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Only in Japan 8 or 13 numeric digits GTIN
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) A unique numerical identifier for commercial books published since 1970 that can be found on the back of the book along with the barcode. Globally ISBN-10: 10 numeric digits (last digit may be "X" which represents the number "10").
Note that this format was deprecated in 2007, and not all books can be represented using ISBN-10.
ISBN-13 (recommended): 13 numeric digits and typically starts with either 978 or 979
GTIN
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) The number which uniquely identifies the product to its manufacturer. Globally Alphanumeric digits (various lengths) MPN
Brand The brand of the product. Globally Name of brand. Brand

Include unique product identifiers in your product data

Depending on the type of product you submit and the country you're targeting, you'll submit different identifiers. For all your items, we recommend submitting all three attributes (‘brand’, ‘mpn’, and ‘gtin’) where available.

For Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, India, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Turkey, unique product identifier attributes are recommended.

For Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US, you'll use the following set of rules to provide the correct identifiers for each of your products.

'gtin' and 'brand' are strictly required* for products when: 

  1. the 'brand' is a designated brand, and
  2. the condition is 'new'.

*Products where 'availability' is 'pre-order' are exempted from this; you may use one of the rules below.

'mpn' is strongly recommended.

For all products that do not meet these criteria, refer to the following rules:

Apparel

'brand' is required.

Additionally, for the categories listed below, you must submit one of either 'gtin' or 'mpn':

  • 'Apparel & Accessories > Shoes'
  • 'Apparel & Accessories > Clothing accessories > Sunglasses'
  • 'Apparel & Accessories > Handbags, Wallets & Cases > Handbags'
  • 'Apparel & Accessories > Jewelry > Watches'

Whenever GTINs are available, we strongly recommend providing them in the 'gtin' attribute.

Media and software 'gtin' is required.
All other categories

At least 2 of the following 3 identifiers are required: 'brand', 'gtin', and 'mpn'.

Whenever GTINs are available, we strongly recommend providing them in the 'gtin' attribute.

No unique product identifiers exist Where unique product identifiers are required but no such identifier exists for an item (e.g. custom goods), submit the 'identifier exists' attribute with a value of FALSE.

If you don't provide unique product identifiers when they exist, your items may be removed from Google Shopping.

In the future, GTIN will become a requirement for all products that have them, but we'll let you know in advance before we make that change.

Tips for specific types of products

  • Toner and inkjet cartridges
    • For compatible cartridges in the 'Electronics > Print, Copy, Scan & Fax > Printer, Copier & Fax Machine Accessories > Printer Consumables > Toner & Inkjet Cartridges' category, submit the unique product identifiers of the manufacturer who actually built the printer cartridge, not the manufacturer that makes the printer.
  • Multipacks
    • A manufacturer-defined multipack is a package of several individually packed identical items sold as a unit. Use the unique product identifiers required for your product type. You should use the identifier that relates to the multipack, not the items contained in the multipack. 
    • A merchant-defined multipack can contain either several units of the same or of distinct products sold as a unit. Use the unique product identifiers required for the individual base item in the multipack.
  • Bundles
    • A manufacturer-defined bundle (for example, a camera body with a lens) is a product that contains multiple items and at least two of the items are different.
    • A merchant-defined bundle is a custom grouping of different products defined by the merchant and sold together for a single price. Use the unique product identifiers required for the product type of the main item in the bundle. Plus, use the 'is bundle' attribute in your data.

Troubleshooting

Use the links below to jump to the troubleshooting topics.

Finding unique product identifiers for your products

When you're working with unique product identifiers, it's important that you don't invent or approximate the values. Each product has a prescribed value assigned by the manufacturer, and any other value will be flagged as invalid.

Ways to find unique product identifiers:

  • Refer to the GTIN on your product's packaging. Learn more
  • Use the Google Shopping "Compare prices" page under the "Details" section for any product.
  • Look up UPCs or EANs at the Internet UPC Database website, which includes many, though not all product identifiers that have been issued. 
  • Look up ISBNs at ISBNdb.com or on Google Books.
  • Contact your product's manufacturer to ask for it.

Making sure your GTIN codes are correct

Ensure that each GTIN that you submit includes the correct:

  • number of digits;
  • check digit (or letter for ISBN-10). The check digit is a digit within the GTIN that can be used as a mathematical check to make sure the product identifier is accurate; and
  • prefixes as defined by GS1.

If you use GTIN-14 codes, only use packaging levels (1-8) if you are selling packages containing multiple items, do not use the bulk level indicator (9).

GTIN submissions should not include codes in the restricted ranges (prefixes 2, 02, 04) or the coupon range (05, 981, 982, 983 ).

Resolving invalid identifier errors

If you submit your feed and encounter errors with your unique product identifiers, you can check a few parts of the identifiers to make sure you provide the right values:

  • Too many or too few digits
  • Letters or symbols (instead of numbers only)
  • Nonstandard manufacturer part number
  • Invalid check digit*

We will generate errors for incorrectly formatted values for the 'gtin' attribute. These errors will prevent an item from appearing in Google Shopping.

For more information about the validation of GTINs, refer to the GTIN Validation Guide edited by GS1.

*The check digit is a digit within the GTIN that can be used as a mathematical check to make sure the product identifier is accurate. You can validate your product identifier and check digit at GS1.

Because users rely on accurate product information, each product submitted to Merchant Center must use the correct identifying information. If your products don't have correct identifiers, they'll be disapproved. Remember to use the manufacturer-assigned part number in the case of ‘mpn’; for ‘brand’ an appropriate brand name (not a store name or product name); and for ‘gtin’ there should be a valid check digit.

No unique product identifiers available

When there is no unique product identifier for an item, provide this information explicitly in your feed by specifying the ‘identifier exists’ attribute for that item. When an identifier exists for the item but you do not have it, it is important to add the correct identifier to your feed rather than using the ‘identifier exists’ attribute.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Isn't ISBN a subset of EAN? How should I submit it?
    Yes, ISBN-13 is a subset of EAN, which in turn is a subset of GTIN; therefore, you should use the 'gtin' attribute to submit your values.
  2. I have books, videos, and DVDs that have UPC and ISBN values (the values are different). Which value should I include, or should I submit both?
    Submit both values.
  3. Where can I find more information about unique product identifiers?
    A great place to start is GTIN Info. Wikipedia also has helpful information.
  4. I sell books that are either too old or rare to have ISBNs. What should I do?
    If the books have an old SBN code (9 digits, used in Great Britain until 1974), you can convert it into an ISBN-10 by adding a zero. You can also convert an ISBN to ISBN-13 using online tools.

    Otherwise, use the ‘identifier exists’ attribute to indicate that there isn't an ISBN for your item.

  5. I sell used and refurbished goods.
    We require all items except custom made goods to include valid product identifiers irrespective of the condition. Seller of the item has the responsibility of including valid identifiers for the items included in the data feed.

    For example, if you sell compatible toner and inkjet cartridges, make sure to include the unique product identifiers of the manufacturer who actually built the printer cartridge.

  6. What if my products have more than one UPC?
    Use the following guidelines when submitting UPCs:
    • Variant products: For products that have a different UPCs for each variant of the item, such as size or color, submit individual product listings with one UPC per item.
    • Multiple UPCs: For products which have more than one valid UPC, such as a global UPC and a UPC which is specific to a merchant or distributor, provide all applicable UPCs in the UPC attribute. For Text/Tab-delimited format, separate multiple UPCs by a comma and space. For XML format, include a 'gtin' attribute at the item level for each additional UPC.
  7. I sell magazine subscriptions.
    International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) values can be converted into GTIN codes. See the wikipedia page about ISSN for more information.
  8. I sell prescription or nonprescription drugs.
    National Drug Code (NDC) values in the United States can be converted into GTIN codes. See the GTIN Validation Guide Appendix C.

    Similar conversion rules exist for drugs issued in European countries. See Guideline on the packaging information of medicinal products for human use authorised by the Union published by the European Commission.

    Refer to our policies for more information about submitting prescription and nonprescription drugs to Google Shopping.

  9. I sell printed music.
    International Standard Music Number (ISMN) can be converted into GTIN codes. See the wikipedia page about ISMN for more information.

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