Diagnosing Disapprovals in Google Merchant Center: The Image Issue

Product Image Disapprovals in Google Shopping

Google is constantly making improvements on the home front – and it seems that now, the Google Shopping team is seeking out product image rule-breakers and taking names.  If a majority of your products or entire data feed has been disapproved out of the blue, product image violations may be the issue.

A screenshot of product disapproval graph in Google Merchant Center
I’ve had nightmares about this.

According to Google’s Program Policies, images may not:

•  Contain promotional messaging
•  Feature a watermark, large or small
•  Point to a logo or placeholder (e.g. “Product Image Coming Soon!”)

Google also seems to be disapproving images with any overlaid text in it at all – promotional or not. So it might be a good idea to clear up any text in images just in case.

What happens when Google finds image violations?

When the Google Shopping team spots an image violating its policy, it disapproves the Product Listing Ad for that item . If bad images are persistent enough, your entire product data feed, and even your account, can be suspended.

If you begin to notice disapprovals, be on the lookout for an e-mail (sent to your technical contact) similar to the one below:

Dear Google Shopping Merchant,

We have reviewed your items and found substantial data quality problems. Unless you take the following required actions by July 12, 2013 to correct your data quality, your products will be suspended from Google Shopping.

Deadline: July 12, 2013

Issue: Wrong Images

Some of your items have wrong/invalid images. Please know that If you have no image for your item, you cannot submit the item. Do not submit a placeholder such as logo of the brand or logo of your store.

Additionally, as per Google Shopping Policies “Your images should not contain promotional messages of any kind, including watermarks or promotional text. You are not allowed to submit image links to logo images or other generic images”.

You can view detailed instructions on how to include accurate image information by visiting http://support.google.com/merchants/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=188494#US

What can I do if my feed has been suspended?

First and foremost: remove all instances of text within your product images (and “don’t be a hooligan!”).  From conversations with the Google AdWords team, the review process even goes SKU by SKU looking for image issues, so be sure your data feed checks out before moving onto the next steps.

After your images are all clear, re-upload your new feed to the Merchant Center.  Once your feed re-enters review, you should start seeing active products again in your Merchant Center dashboard.

For the full story on account reinstatement, check out Google’s page on data quality enforcement and suspensions.

Do you have questions about data disapprovals in Google Merchant Center? Comment below or shoot us an e-mail!


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  1. Karl Schmidt says

    The bigger problem is false positives – They are detecting Text that is on the image or no text at all.

    • Karl Schmidt says

      Should say – they are detecting text that is on the product – that is part of the product.

      Also – lots of false positives.

  2. susan says

    This rule is detrimental to those trying to protect their copyrighted images – artists, photographers and the like. It places a heavy burden on the copyright holder to police the internets for infringement, more now then ever.

    Not to mention products that may have type as a part of their design – t-shirts, signage or DVDs, for example.

    • Cathy Nguyen says

      We agree, this is tough for artists displaying their work with watermarks as part of their advertising in Google Product ads. You may try using non-watermarked images in your product ads, but keep the images with watermarks on your website.

      The problem is with images that have had text added to them, such as the name of the product added to a photo of the product. If you have a product that has text on it when you take the photo, such as a DVD Case that states the title of the movie, or a T-Shirt that states “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – that’s not an issue. Hope that helps clarify!

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