What is a GTIN?

Posted by Matt Sullivan on Feb 16, 2016 10:54:54 AM

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Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), also referred to as UPC, EAN, JAN and ISBN, is a unique identifier used by manufacturers of a product to uniquely identify it. The uniqueness and universality of the identifier is a useful and accurate way of aligning the same product sold by different merchants which is why it will soon be required by Google for all branded products.

Accurate product identifiers are essential for shopping platforms to display and align product offers in a way which makes it easy for consumers to find, compare and buy the products they need. Google is launching new units which aim to make the consumer buying journey more effective and you can find more information about these new ad units here.  

From a retailers viewpoint the change is important as it can lead to significant increases in traffic, allowing your products to appear in more places, driving exposure increases of 40% and increases of 20% in conversions (obviously depending on how price competitive you are).  Google are also not the only ones who need this information and ensuring you have correct GTIN’s will benefit you across all of your commerce channels. That’s why the Intelligent Reach team works with you tirelessly to continuously improve every element of your product data. 

There are several different versions of an EAN, the most common European on is the GTIN-13 (13 character length) EAN:





Any merchant that lists brand-name products that are sold by multiple merchants. However If you sell used, custom, handmade, or vintage products, then this change doesn’t apply



In its most basic sense, your products will be disapproved and you will not generate revenue from them. Analysis by Google after the first phase of this project was introduced with the initial 50 brands in 2015 have shown merchants who supplied correct GTINs saw a very significant 20% increase in conversion rates! Failure or delay in getting these GTINs ready before the deadline will give your competitors the advantage.



Since most retailers and distributors are using GTINs you can most probably find this information within your organization, you may already have them in your inventory, various backend or POS systems. Failing that it maybe that you need to spend time in the warehouse noting these down, a perfect job for those interns :)

If you are still missing some then you should approach your distributors or the manufacturer directly for a list. It may be prudent to do that anyway to help validate the ones you do have. Accuracy of valid GTINs will be key to success. It is important to keep in mind that creating values for GTINs or purchasing your own in order to fulfil this requirement will result in offers being disapproved!



Don’t delay!

If you're targeting Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or the US, submit correct GTINs.

8 February 2016: Warnings begin. You'll start to see item-level warnings in the Diagnostics tab for products that don't meet the requirements. Use these warnings to help you update your product data.

16 May 2016: Enforcement begins. You'll start to see item-level disapprovals in the Diagnostics tab for products that don't meet the requirements. After this date, you'll need to meet the GTIN requirements to continue serving ads for your products.


To arrange a demo and find out more about the Intelligent Reach can help your business best prepare to meet these changes, click here.


Topics: Google, google shopping