[identifier_exists]: How And When To Use It
What is [identifier_exists]?
It is a Google Shopping attribute that indicates that unique identifiers are not available for your product. It can be set to either ‘yes’ (meaning there are identifiers) or ‘no’ (meaning there are no identifiers). This is a required attribute for new products that do not have GTIN and brand, or MPN and brand.
What are ‘identifiers’?
MPN (Manufacturer’s Part Number)
This is used to unique identify a specific product among all products from the manufacturer.
Required for all products without a manufacturer-assigned GTIN, but optional for custom-made products.
Use the MPN that was assigned by the manufacturer for each product. This may be coming into your feed as the ‘sku’. The ID is NOT the MPN!
GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)
This number uniquely identifies a product at the global level, and is commonly found in the barcode.
Required for all products that have a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer, and must be the valid and true GTIN for the product.
GTINs are also known as:
- UPC (North America): 12 digit number
- EAN (Europe): 13 digit number
- JAN (Japan): 8 or 13 digit number
- ISBN (for books): 13 digit number
- ITF-14 (multipacks): 14 digit number
This is used to identify the product, and will be shown to consumers, and can be used to segment Adwords campaigns.
Required for each product with a clearly associated brand or manufacturer. To populate this attribute, brand can be found in the title, description, product type, etc.
When should [identifier_exists] be used?
This is a required attribute for all products that don’t have GTIN and Brand, or MPN and Brand.
Typically custom goods, one of a kind items, or products products produced before GTINs were introduced (such as vintage or antique products) will require the [identifier_exists] field.
If your products are missing GTIN and Brand, or MPN and Brand
[identifier_exists] should be set to ‘no’
This tells Google that this product is missing identifiers, and this will prevent these products from being disapproved.
How do I use [identifier_exists] properly?
1. Create a new extra field in file maps: [identifier_exists]
2a. If GTIN and brand don’t exist, set [identifier_exists] to ‘no’
- IF [gtin] equal ‘’ AND [brand] equal ‘’ THEN [identifier_exists] equal ‘no’
2b. If mpn and brand don’t exist, set [identifier_exists] to ‘no’
- IF [mpn] equal ‘’ AND [brand] equal ‘’ THEN [identifier_exists] equal ‘no’
3. Map [identifier_exists] to Google export
How NOT to use [identifier_exists]
Do NOT use [identifier_exists] if GTINs exist!
If you are receiving the ‘Item requires GTIN’ error, this means the GTINs exist somewhere on the internet. It is the client’s responsibility to then find these missing GTINs.
Can I use this as a workaround to remove the ‘Item requires GTIN’ error?
If [identifier_exists] is set to ‘no, brand needs to be removed from the title, description, product type, or any other field that it is listed in. Additionally, Brand, MPN and GTIN must be removed (ie equal ‘’) for these products
This can negatively impact client’s campaign, since brand is no longer searchable.
Why can’t I leave brand in the title if I use [identifier_exists] equal to ‘no’ as a workaround?
Google will find out, the products will get disapproved, and the client will probably get frustrated because they’ll still need to provide GTINs (even though we implemented a “workaround” that should’ve taken care of the problem)
What if my client receives the ‘item requires GTIN’ error, but is actively looking for GTINs?
- You can offer [identifier_exists] as a TEMPORARY workaround
- You can follow the guidelines by not populating brand, mpn, or gtin
- You are required to explicitly explain to the client in writing that:
- This is a temporary workaround for the meantime while they’re finding GTINs
- GTINs will still be required for their feed
- Brand will need to be removed from the title
In summary, [identifier_exists] equal ‘no’ …
- Should only be used if:
- Brand and mpn do not exist
- Brand and GTIN do not exist
- Should not be used:
- To relieve GTIN errors
- Can possibly be used as a last resort if:
- Client is actively working on providing GTINs
Written explanation of how this is a short-term temporary workaround while the GTINs are being worked on, and how the attribute set to ‘no’ may negatively impact their feed
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Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and eCommerce webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.