Google Merchant Center Next: A Big Deal or All Hype?

Buried beneath the headlines swirling around GA4, ChatGPT, Bard, and Gemini, Google has quietly rolled out a comprehensive update to the Merchant Center platform, dubbed Google Merchant Center Next (GMCN).

On paper, Google Merchant Center Next is good news. If you had asked me two years ago to name one Google platform that desperately needed an overhaul, I wouldn’t have said Google Analytics, I would’ve said Merchant Center. Navigating the old platform was cantankerous at best, requiring multiple clicks to get to data that should have been available on the front-end dashboard. It was highly versatile, allowing extreme customization of product data, but the usability was complex enough to cause problems for even experienced users. Furthermore, as versatile as Merchant Center was, it was limited by its inability to integrate seamlessly with new advances in the industry, like ecommerce platform connectivity and AI enhancements.

But is the new GMCN platform living up to the promise? Well, yes and no. First, the pros.

Pros of Google Merchant Center Next
  • AI Tools Are Included in the Interface: GMCN is definitely a step in the right direction regarding connectivity to other platforms and functions. AI is baked into the interface from the ground up and should only improve as Google enhances its ability to link directly with customer’s ecommerce platforms and retrieve product data, or even simply pull that data from the product landing pages directly, which in this humble advertiser’s opinion, should have always been the case.
  • Improved Shipping User Interface: The user interface of Google Merchant Center Next is much improved in multiple areas (Take notes, GA4!). Shipping and return settings, a forever headache in the legacy platform, are front and center here. The new shipping setup process is much more streamlined without sacrificing the user’s ability to input complex shipping tables and functions where necessary.
  • Improved Free Listings Data: Likewise, the Free Listings function has its own page, sectioned off from the paid shopping channel. This is a large shift from the legacy Merchant Center, which lumped paid traffic and free listings together into all platform data, and forced users to segment products between these two sections at the product level.
  • Data Analysis at a Glance with Analytics Built in: The Analytics section of Google Merchant Center Next, a welcome addition to the previous version of the platform, remains mostly intact here, allowing for a respectable dashboard of insights into product data. It won’t hold a candle to the data analysis capability of Google Analytics or Google Ads, but it’s serviceable and a unique addition that can help new users get an immediate grasp of product activity without getting lost in the wilds of the more advanced data science platforms.
  • Product Data Alerts and Product Protection Tools Are Still Available: Similarly, product data alerts and product protection thresholds, two incredibly helpful tools from the former platform, make the transition and can be found in the gear symbol menu. I would prefer these to be more apparent to new users, but that’s a small gripe.

Now, the cons, of which there are few, but are significant.

Cons of Google Merchant Center Next
  • No Capability of Making Edits in Bulk: Editing product-level data directly in the interface is easier for each product individually, but bulk change capability is completely lacking within the platform itself. The solutions built into the legacy Merchant Center platform to implement bulk changes, namely custom rules and supplemental feeds, are gone and without an adequate replacement. The only way to make changes to multiple products at once is from the external product data source; generally, an ecommerce platform or feed management tool before Google Merchant Center is involved. 

According to Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin, rules and supplemental feeds were to have been rolled out “early next year.” We’re approaching Q2 with no update.

  • Hard to Appeal or View Product Disapprovals: Google seems to have made it particularly difficult to appeal or even view product disapprovals on the new platform. Considering the automated product disapproval system consistently produces false positives at an alarming rate, this particular change couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Consensus of the Updated GMCN Platform

Overall, Google Merchant Center Next seems like a platform with better conceptual structure and usability design than GA4 or the legacy version of the platform, but is slightly tainted that more advanced tools are missing and by a drive to move flexibility and control from advertisers to automated solutions that haven’t proven they can make sound decisions without oversight.

About the Author:


Related Posts

Sign up for our mailing list

Get the latest on the world of digital marketing right to your inbox.

    Share This Resource, Choose Your Platform!

    Join the JumpFly Newsletter

    Get Our Marketing Insights Right To Your Inbox

      Schedule a Call

        Fields containing a star (*) are required

        Content from Calendly will be embedded here