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What Are Product Feeds and How They Are Important for Ecommerce

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Advertising products from your ecommerce store relies on accurate, up-to-date information being fed to Google/Facebook/TikTok/your sales channel of choice.

Without this information, you’ll be unable to advertise your products or worse: your red LFC hats that you sell will show up for something irrelevant (like red MUFC hats and we don’t want that to happen…ever!).

This is because your sales channel won’t know when to push your products to potential customers, leaving the sales opportunities in the hands of your competitors or simply wasting away your ad spend on irrelevant searches.

Ecommerce product feeds address this potential problem and ensure that your products have the best chance of your products being shown at relevant opportunities. However, some work is required by yourself to set up your product feed. The amount of work required depends on what route you decide to go down.

Each sales channel has mandatory fields that will need to be included in order to advertise your products. So, we’ll proceed for the rest of this post using the example that your sales channel is Google and you want to run Google Shopping ad campaigns. Merry reading!

What is a product feed?

A product feed is basically a file that contains information about your products and presents that information in a way that is easy for your sales channel to understand.

This information is anything and everything that can be useful in helping sell your products. Think of the most mandatory product features like product name, description, cost that you see when you visit a website or see a Google Shopping ad. On top of that, you also have many, many more fields for information that can be relevant like colour, size, and product category.

If you have an ecommerce site, then you likely already have a product feed file – or a substitute that works for you. This is a database that you use to keep track of your product data and stock levels, etc.

Being able to easily use this information for your Shopping campaigns will require you to present it in a way that is easy for Google to understand. You can do this manually or use an automated tool to do this for you.


Types of product feeds

Product data feeds can be formatted into one of multiple file types such as CSV, XML, TSV, or JSON. We find that we most commonly use CSV (Comma Separated Values) files.

You may find that what file type you use is dictated by how you go about putting your product feed together. This is a choice between completely manual, using an automated feed, or using a content API (Application Programming Interface) feed.

Manual Product Feeds

This is exactly what it says on the tin.

You will have to manually collect all information about your products and keep it up to date as time goes on, stock levels change, and you start selling more products.

Then you’ll also have to manually transfer this information into Google Merchant Centre and then again into Google Ads so you can create and manage your campaigns.

If this sounds like a lot of work that’s because it is! Only people with really small, manageable inventories should consider going down the manual route.

Automated Product Feeds

Automated product feeds, on the other hand, require very little maintenance to ensure that they’re working correctly.

Google has its own automated feed building tool that works by crawling your site. You just need to make sure your products are listed and accurate, then do the work to initially set up the schema and structured data.

There are also plenty of tools out there for product feed automation, and some offer some pretty nice features that can make your job easier.

These feeds are aimed at businesses that have loads of products and can’t manage manually handling the data for all of them. Or, businesses that use multiple sales channels that all require different data requirements.

Content API Feeds

Content API Feeds are the happy medium between manual and automated product data feeds, and are probably the best solution for most small-medium sized businesses.

Let’s say your ecommerce site is built on Shopify (which it most likely is), this method uses Shopify’s built in API to communicate your data with Google’s Merchant Centre and then to Google Ads where you can manage your campaigns.

All you have to do is fill in your product data at the outset on your Shopify Product Information Page. This is simple enough, and Shopify have broken down the page into easy to identify blocks so you can easily paste the right information in the correct place.

Then Shopify sends this information to a Google Merchant Centre account if one is linked, if not then it will make one for you. From here you will see an overview of your products and information on what can be improved if there are any errors.

Finally, this data is transferred to Google Ads where you can then create ad groups and start advertising your products to make sales!


Managed product data feeds

If this sounds like a lot of work then wait until you hear about optimising your data feeds!

This is an ongoing task that needs to be based off research and data-led decisions in order to give your adverts the best chance at succeeding.

If you’d like to leave this up to the professionals then we wouldn’t blame you! Get in touch with our team at Blaze Media and we can put you in touch with our paid media department and begin working together!

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