Something interesting has been happening in Google Shopping lately, specifically with the titles in product listing ads (PLAs). More and more I have seen the title submitted in the feed for a product is not always the one that shows for the ad. While Google is always changing the way it displays PLAs,  this latest shift could make the art of crafting the perfect title a thing of the past.

I first noticed this title discrepancy shortly after Google changed their GTIN requirements in May. It seems a standardized title was being supplemented for all merchants who sold the same product. This disparity is best evidenced when a user toggles from the main search engine results page to the ‘Shopping’ tab at the top of that same results page. As an example, I used Google to search for a jacket I have had my eye on.

In the screenshot above you will see six individual listings, each with a unique title for the same “Sanctuary camo butterfly bomber jacket”. Some titles lead with gender (women’s), brand (Sanctuary) or descriptive words (Embroidered Camo). However, once you switch to the Shopping tab these same stores are all displayed under one title in the form of an individual listing (see image below). You may ask how this is possible? Magic! No not really, more like GTIN magic. Google is able to populate all the information registered with the GTIN and supplement it in resulting in one standardized listing.

While this update is meant to benefit the customer and merchant alike, it makes me wonder what the future holds for advertisers as far as feed best practices. As of today, the product title is one of the most important factors in determining whether your listing will show for a given customer’s search query based on relevancy. If Google is able to fill in or alter your information in the feed based on the GTIN for a product then data accuracy on the merchant side is going to be key in order to continue competing in Google Shopping. Also, a compelling title will no longer be a valid way to differentiate a listing. To stand out in Google Shopping, price and reputation will play a bigger role in performance. Although Google could not comment directly, they did confirm our speculation was true that GTINs are being used to standardize PLAs.

Before we in the PPC world start to bemoan this change (and all the time we spent fine-tuning our titles), we should step back and remember what Google’s overall mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Overall, it’s clear that Google is using the GTIN requirement as a way to standardize the information submitted from multiple merchants and provide the end user with the most relevant information. Once the GTIN is detected all merchants are aligned together. This seamless, simplified experience equals less time searching by the customer (navigating to multiple sites to compare prices) and more time spent on Google. This shift is similar to Amazon’s listings where customers are taken to one product page with a list of all the retailers who sell the product. So yes, while advertisers may lose their uniquely crafted title they stand to gain additional information that may not have been available in their feed (such as product reviews, related items, and additional specification details about the product). Maybe this is a true win-win for all.

Talk to your account team or contact us today to learn more about the GTIN updates and how we can drive increased performance from your paid search and Google Shopping campaigns.