Google Shopping: New Policies & Feed Requirements

Participating merchants must comply with new guidelines by July 1st, 2012

Effective July 1st, 2012 all participating Google merchants will be required to comply with the new feed requirements and policies associated with Google Shopping. We know this may be confusing to some, as currently there are different governing policies for Google Product Search, Google Adwords and Google Product Listing Ads.

Google product Search currently allows some product types that will be disallowed on July 1st.  This policy adjustment brings in line the current Google Product Listing Ads with that of the new Google Shopping. Most notable of the new Google Shopping policies is one that states that all items sold must be deemed as “Family Safe.” Any “adult” or “non-family safe” products which fall outside of this category will not be included in Google Shopping.

Examples of product categories that do not qualify as family safe or for the program:

  • Adult products, services, and content
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes and tobacco
  • Weapons and ammunition
  • Affiliates
  • Services

For a full list of dis-allowed items, visit the Google Shopping policies page.

Google has stated that at this time, organic search results will not be affected by the changes to their shopping program. Only those sellers who want to continue to participate in Google Shopping must comply to the policies & feed requirements associated with Google AdWords, Product Listing Ads, and Shopping.

Thus far unchanged is the Google Adwords policies that still allows for a system that defines ad content as “family safe,” “non-family safe,” or “adult”, which does not automatically exclude from Adwords.  “Family safe” is allowed. “Non-family safe” is allowed, provided other detailed criteria is met. A good example here is Alcohol related products.  Google AdWords allows alcoholic beverages like beer, cider, sake, wine, and champagne, but does not allow hard alcohol and liquor. Ads for these products are deems “non-family safe” and are allowed in Google Adwords provided:

  • the ads and websites do not target minors
  • don’t include endorsements from athletes
  • cartoon characters or icons/people appealing to minors
  • the landing page has an age gate and includes statements about drinking responsibly
  • ads and websites don’t imply drinking alcohol can improve sexual, social or professional standings
  • ads and website does not indicate drinking alcohol in excess is good
  • ads and website does not imply that drinking alcohol is relaxing or therapeutic
  • ads and websites don’t show people consuming alcohol; doing anything illegal, violent, or dangerous; or being inappropriate in other ways, such as acting in a degrading manner
  • ads and website does not contain sexual content

Google Shopping, Google Adwords, Google Product Listing Ads and current Google Product Search policies may be in flux for some time.  If your product offerings fall into the new policy void, remember that you are not alone or singled out.  Keep an eye on policy changes as inclusion opportunities may arise.

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All of us here at Vertical Rail are tracking Google’s changes very carefully to bring our clients and readers the most up to date information possible. If you have any questions about how these changes may affect your business, please leave them in the comments below.

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