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Google Merchant Center

Which Google Shopping Feed Provider Is Best?

Which Google Shopping Feed Provider Is Best?

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

Let's Talk Shopping Feed Providers!

As with many things, feed providers have different pros and cons, and there is not really one ideal solution for every scenario.

Also, before you make any changes, make sure to consider all of the things that could go wrong with a Google Shopping feed provider transition, I cover many of those in detail here: Changing Google Shopping Feed Providers? You Desperately Need a Roadmap

With that in mind, I do think there are some general categories that ecommerce brands fall into, for which a "more ideal" feed provider solution exists. I hope to detail out my thoughts on that below. As usual, you can choose to disagree with anything I say, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Social Media if you know something I don't here.

For the sake of organization, I'm going to divide this into Four Key Categories: 

  • In-House
  • Full Service Feed Solutions
  • Basic Feed Providers
  • Platform Feed Apps

In-House Product Feeds

Let's start with the in-house option. This can be both handy and terrible. It can be handy, because you have access to someone in your organization who has the ability to make every wish of yours come through with enough time into coding whatever specific custom feed optimization you want to add to the feed attributes! How cool!

google shopping feed developers

The tricky thing, is that developers have (understandably) a million things on their tasklist with, arguably, a higher level of priority than your feed change... so you might never actually get some of those fun things done. You can solve this with supplemental feed changes, but it's still not ideal.

Some brands may not have the dev resources to invest in this, or the interest in doing so. This is definitely not an ideal solution for everyone.

File Upload

Another thing to keep in mind when building a feed in-house, is that the feed will need to be created as a file such as .xml or .txt and then uploaded to an FTP. This also means you'll get a maximum of one (automatic) update per day for your feed, which means any changes to products will either not be sent to the feed until the next scheduled time, or require you to go in there manually to process the feed changes. It's not the end of the world, but it's not as convenient as an API connection, that's for sure.


For the super small brand, with only a handful of products, in which the data doesn't change very often, I actually think a Spreadsheet is a great option. You can go into Google Merchant Center, use a Google Sheets template, and get a feed going ASAP. If you have a lot of products, especially products that change often for things like stock or price, you definitely want to consider other options.

google shopping product feed sreadsheet google drive

Full Service Feed Solutions

For the larger retailers, brands, or marketplaces a Full Service Feed Provider may be the ideal option. These tend to be more expensive feed options, so don't always make sense for the smaller brand... and even the larger brands should weigh carefully whether they actually need the full services when faced with the premium price charged by these providers. The most well known Full Service Feed Provider is likely Feedonomics, who was recently acquired by BigCommerce, though I am aware of other providers like DataFeedWatch offering more hands-on support as well, and I've heard great things about ProductsUp but never used them personally.

productsup google shopping feed provider

The benefit of these providers shows up strong when it comes to complex, custom-needed feed solutions. For instance, you may have 1 million SKUs in which you want fairly customizable product groupings based on a variety of factors. Feedonomics can simply build out the feed attributes according to your specifications while you sleep peacefully. That can save you hours of time so it can be worth it when needed.

File Upload

As with In-House, Feed Providers are unable to connect to Google Merchant Center through the API so they must upload a file. This carries the same drawbacks as discussed previously, specifically in not allowing for instantaneous product updates.

Basic Feed Providers

I wasn't sure how to name this option, as "basic" shouldn't be seen as negative. In fact, our ZATO Google Shopping clients tend to be on either the Simprosys Shopify App or one of these "basic" feed providers. By Basic, I simply mean the benefit they primarily offer is to transform and process the feed data into the correct format to be accepted by Google Merchant Center. What happens to that data varies based on the feed provider. Most of them (DataFeedWatch, GoDataFeed, etc) allow for some sort of bulk editing, manual attribute customization, and some may even offer optimization services (I expect this to become more of a normalized offering as "LLM" solutions become more accessible).

datafeedwatch google shopping feed provider

One thing to keep in mind here with Feed Providers, is that you still need to get your product data to the feed provider, often they will assist you in this task (one of the reasons I like DataFeedWatch), but it is worth noting that you still have to have some form of product data you are uploading to the provider, the feed provider is responsible for getting the data in order for Google Merchant Center (so it can be used in Standard Shopping, dynamic remarketing, Demand Gen, and Performance Max campaigns).

As far as who will likely benefit from basic feed providers, I find it's typically smaller to mid-sized ecommerce brands who have a number of products (let's say a SKU count of 1000+) and who have a number of things that change semi-regularly in those products, new products, stock status, price changes, etc. In this way, a Feed Provider can be helpful since it can allow for management, but it tends to make financial sense for the brand since the provider fees are a small part of overall marketing costs with a basic feed provider.

File Upload

As with In-House, Feed Providers are unable to connect to Google Merchant Center through the API so they must upload a file. This carries the same drawbacks as discussed previously, specifically in not allowing for instantaneous product updates.

Platform Feed Apps

My go-to feed option for most brands on Shopify, is the platform feed app of Simprosys. I find the other apps (including Google's) tend to be limited on the information you are able to edit, whereas Simprosys has a relatively impressive bulk editing UI at an exceptionally low cost (the starter plan at the time of writing this is a whopping $5/mo).

Content API

One of the reasons I like feed apps themselves is because the app is able to utilize the API connection directly to Google Merchant Center. This means that the API can send instantaneous product changes to Google Merchant Center... resulting in quicker updates within GMC. Remember, with file uploads that happen once per day (or with manual action throughout the day), you could have multiple product changes such as a change in price or stock or removed product that is not reflected in Merchant Center until the next time the feed is processed. Now, admittedly, Google is battling this with its automatic item updates, but even those rely on the crawler's timing on the site. In reality, utilizing the API is the best way to ensure instantaneous changes to the product feed.

simprosys google shopping feed app shopify

Due to pricing and the Content API, Platform Feed Apps are the most versatile for me in terms of brand size. Whether you have 10 SKUs or 10,000 SKUs the feed app could be a good option for you. However, I find there is a limit to the benefit of the feed apps if a brand has tens of thousands of SKUs that need to be edited/optimized or maintained in a way that is more complex than what the app can offer. In that regard, the brand must determine whether the changes they want to make are worth the additional cost of the platform feed provider (especially if it is a Full Service option such as Feedonomics). Each situation is a little different and should be considered uniquely.

I hope this has been helpful, and I'd like to leave you with the warning that changing feed providers is no small feat. It can harm performance if not done correctly, so if you are considering switching feed providers, consider contracting with an expert to help you navigate the changes that need to take place (such as adding the new container before removing the old, setting up a test feed first, matching Item IDs, matching attributes in the new feed as much as possible, etc).

Anything to add here? As usual, hit me up on social media and let's continue the conversation!

PPCKirk on Twitter/X and LinkedIn

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Kirk Williams
@PPCKirk - Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter or Linkedin.

In 2023, Kirk had the privilege of speaking at the TEDx Billings on one of his many passions, Stop the Scale: Redefining Business Success.

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