Here is Why Google is Downgrading the Product Category Field for Product Type

hero conf google shopping session

Maybe you saw this announcement and wondered if there was something behind it. Read on! I believe I can fill in some gaps based upon Google’s announcement regarding Google Product Category’s quiet sunsetting.

If you missed it, here is the release:

google product category optional



What they don’t tell you, is the reasoning behind this. We were on a recent (and rare) call with a Google Shopping Feed Specialist who filled in some more details that I’m happy to share with you. It specifically involves a field they don’t talk about in this announcement at all, the Product Type field.

So what’s the deal, why is Google reducing the level of importance it places on its product category? According to what we were told, it is because the Google Product Category just isn’t that accurate for proper categorization, and thus giving Google smart contextual signals for matching products to the best queries. What they ARE changing, that they didn’t announce here, is they are beginning to place more importance on the Product Type field.

Why Product Type?

Google has wisely identified that the Product Type field is the retailer internal categorization that typically gives detailed insight into how they see how the products should be categorized on their sites… and this gives Google smarter contextual signals than their contrived Product Categories did. Props to Google for seeing this and making the required changes, and I think this was overall a great idea.

How does this affect your Shopping Ads account? We’ve seen many clients who don’t even have anything in the Product Type field, so at the very least we suggest you begin implementing a detailed hierarchy into your Shopping Feed in Merchant Center for the Product Type field. The more descriptive you can be, the better. Utilize things like pattern, material, size, and color if possible.

hero conf google shopping session

So, as Paul Harvey would say, and now you know…the rest of the story!

Dear Google, thanks for ruining one of my upcoming Shopping Ads slides with today’s announcement 😛   Well, even with this spoiler alert, you can still make it out to HeroConf Philadelphia as there will be other great Shopping knowledge dropped in my upcoming session!


Did you know: ZATO can manage just Shopping Ads for your Brand or company alongside your in-house/agency Paid Search team?  Learn more about this offering here: Google Shopping Agency.