About automatic item updates

Issues such as latency between updates on your website and updates to your data submissions can result in inaccurate or stale product data. Automatic item updates can help you avoid this by keeping your product data up to date. Automatic item updates allow Google to update your product listings on Shopping ads, Shopping Actions, local inventory ads and surfaces across Google using the structured data markup that we find on your website and advanced data extractors. Automatic item updates are currently offered for the price [price] and availability [availability] attributes.

For example, if your most recent data feed contains an item that costs £4 but your product landing page lists it as £3, we will update the item to £3 in your Shopping ad.

This article explains how automatic item updates work.

Benefits

Automatic item updates lead to an improved user experience, more traffic to your Shopping ads and to higher conversion rates because users already see the correct price in your Shopping ads and are not sent to out-of-stock items. Since we're updating your product data with information found directly on your landing pages, this feature also minimises the number of mismatches between your Shopping ads and your website. This in turn reduces the risk of account suspension for price and availability mismatches. If too many mismatches occur, however, automatic item updates will stop working and your account will be at risk of pre-emptive item disapproval. Learn more about pre-emptive item disapproval

Automatic item updates will be turned on by default in your account. If you decide to turn them off, items with mismatched price and availability will be temporarily disapproved rather than updated. Manage automatic item updates in your account

Note: If your Merchant Center account is configured as a multi-client account, by default each sub-account will use the settings of the parent account. Sub-accounts can also select the option to specify their own settings.

Automatic item updates isn't a replacement for your feeds or for regular updates of your product data. It is designed to fix small problems with your price and availability accuracy for a small percentage of your items. You should continue to provide accurate product data frequently, as we will not be able to cover all of your items with automatic item updates.

About advanced data extractors

Advanced extractors are able to find price and availability information on a product's landing page. They use a combination of statistical models and machine learning to detect and extract product data from your website-independent structured data markup. These extractors work in addition to schema.org structured data markup, and using schema.org markup is still recommended for retailers.

Google cannot guarantee the accuracy of any updates that we make. However, we have designed various checks and safeguards for this feature to prevent incorrect updates. For more details, review the troubleshooting section below. You may also want to review the landing page requirements.

For Shopping Actions

If Shopping Actions is listed as an included_destination [included_destination] and a link attribute is provided for any of your items, those items may receive automatic price updates when a minor price difference is detected between the feed price and the price found on the landing page that was submitted using the link attribute.

If a significant difference in price is detected, the price for that item will not be automatically updated and the item will continue selling on Shopping Actions with the original feed price.

Similarly, if both Shopping ads and Shopping Actions are listed as included_destinations [included_destination] for any of your items and a significant difference is found between the feed price and the price on the landing page that was submitted using the link attribute, the price will not be automatically updated and the item will be disapproved for Shopping ads due to price mismatch. The item will, however, still be eligible to sell on Shopping Actions at the original feed price.

Use the product data feed or Content API to make significant price changes. Keep in mind that automatic item updates can be turned off at any time. Simply make adjustments on the settings page in your Merchant Center account.

Example automatic item update

In the image below, you can see when we update the price and availability of an item, using price information and a .txt data feed for this example. When you upload an item (green icon) with a price of £1, a user (blue icon) will see this price. If we find a price mismatch after your upload, we will update the price of the item automatically. In this example, we find a price of £2 on your website, which doesn't match the price provided in your most recent data submission. From this point on, the user will see £2 as the price of the item. The next feed upload (time B) will overwrite this update and the user will now see a price of £3.

Getting started with automatic item updates

1. Implement valid structured data on your landing pages

The first step to getting started with automatic item updates is ensuring that you have valid structured data on the landing pages for your items. If your landing pages don't contain any structured data, or the structured data markup is wrong, incomplete or not valid, we'll use advanced data extractors to update items automatically. If you turn off automatic item updates, or our extractors are unable to determine any price or availability information, the item will be subject to item disapprovals. Learn more about getting started with structured data.

2. Review items that have been updated

If you have not disabled automatic item updates, you can view the current status of these updates on the 'Automatic item updates' section of your account, which is located in the Tools and settings menu. You can also review recently automatically updated items in the downloadable report available in the Diagnostics page.

Troubleshooting issues with automatic item updates

In order to ensure that updates are performed correctly, we may temporarily stop updating items automatically if we detect an error. You can view these errors in the Diagnostics page under Products in your account. Once all of the errors have been fixed, we'll start updating items automatically.

Be aware that we need to access your product landing pages and extract structured data markup information successfully before the issues in the report can be resolved. This may take a couple of weeks.

The errors below will result in a temporary suspension of automatic item updates:

Insufficient match of structured data and product data

We require a minimum match level between the product data that you submit to Google and both the schema.org structured data markup on your landing pages and the information available to the advanced data extractors. If this data differs too often, we stop updating items automatically until the match level has reached the required minimum. To improve the match rate, we recommend that you provide more frequent updates of your Shopping ads product data.

Note: We often see price mismatches due to sales prices. When a product is available at a discounted price, this needs to be reflected in the structured data and in your product data. Another common source of mismatches is price ranges and variants. If there are multiple variants shown on the landing page, you can use the id [id] or gtin [gtin] attribute to specify which variant a price corresponds to.

Incorrect or missing landing page data

In order to ensure that updates are performed correctly, we compare the user-visible information on your product landing pages to the data that we find using either structured data markup or using advanced extractors for a sample of offers. If we find a mismatch, we stop updating items automatically

Invalid structured data

If your product landing pages have invalid price and availability information in the structured data markup, we might not update items automatically. Review the listed examples and ensure that they contain valid structured data. The Structured Data Testing Tool can help you to debug any issues.

The error below will significantly reduce the scale at which we'll be able to update items automatically:

Limited crawling capacity provided

Automatic item updates rely on our ability to access your product landing pages frequently to provide updates in a timely manner. Google Search Console allows you to control the rate at which Google is crawling your website. These settings will also be used for your landing pages provided in your product data.

On the server side, we recommend that you treat requests from Google (user agent 'GoogleBot' and 'AdsBot') as requests from regular users and that you do not apply any throttling of requests.

Limitations of automatic item updates

We won't be able to update items effectively in all instances, depending on the frequency of price and availability updates on your website. As a rule of thumb, automatic item updates won't be very effective if the price or availability of the majority of the items on your website is updated multiple times a day. This includes, for example, scenarios where prices are regularly updated based on currency exchange rates. In these cases, we recommend that you use the Content API to update your product data.

Manage automatic item updates settings

Automatic item updates are turned on by default. You can manage automatic item updates settings at the account level at any time.

To manage the settings for automatic item updates:

  1. Sign in to your Merchant Center account.
  2. Click the tools icon , then select Automatic item updates under 'Settings'
  3. On the following page, you can enable automatic item updates for price, availability, or both price and availability. You can also turn off automatic item updates completely.

Best practices for automatic item updates

To improve the quality of your data and provide a good user experience, try the following:

  • Schedule feed uploads or updates via the Content API immediately after the items have been updated on your website. This will help you avoid errors due to the time difference between updates on your website and updates of your Shopping data.
  • If you're using the sale_price [sale_price] attribute, make sure that the time period in which the sale is active is specified correctly with the sale price effective date attribute, and that the timezone is correct. When a sale is active, the sale price is shown as the current price in Google Shopping search results.
  • If you use a local products feed or a local product inventory feed, you may need to check those feeds as well as the standard product feed to identify and repair the incorrect price.
  • For products sold in bulk quantities, you should submit the total price for the minimum number of items sold. Landing pages must list prices in the appropriate currency of the target country, and in the same currency as that submitted in your product data.
  • In order to detect and update mismatches, Google crawls the landing pages listed in your data feed or provided in the Content API. You can increase Google's crawl rate to allow us to cover more items on your website. Learn more about how to change the Googlebot crawl rate
  • Revert a specific automatic update by uploading your data feed again or by updating the item with the Content API.

Advanced: Accounting for site latency

One of the causes of inaccurate or stale product data is latency, which is the time between updates on your website and updates to the product data that you submit. We've factored in this latency period to automatic item updates.

The image below shows how latency may impact how we update your items automatically, using price information and a .txt data feed for this example. The yellow bar represents a latency period before a feed upload. Let's say that you have an item that is being displayed to the user at £3. We then detect a price mismatch within a latency period (time C). A user will now see a price of £4 even after a feed upload has provided a price of £5, because the detection of the mismatch happened within the latency period of this feed upload. The next feed upload (time D) will then change the price to £6 because the detection of the mismatch didn't occur within the latency period of this feed upload.

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