Google Merchant Center

The Pause Attribute 101 (Including Practical Tips)

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 10 March 2023

What’s the right attribute to stop products from showing in Shopping Ads?

There are multiple options to stop an item from showing, including the “out of stock,” “excluded destination,” and “pause” attributes, so you might be wondering which is the correct one.

In this article, we’ll cover the pause attribute and explain what it is, how to format it, and, most importantly, when to use it. 

We’ll also compare it with the other two options for blocking feed items from ads.

This article is part of our Google Shopping Feed hub.

What Is the Pause Attribute in the Product Feed?

The pause attribute allows merchants to stop a product from showing in Shopping ads.

It’s a short-term pause, no longer than 14 days, and it applies to all Shopping destinations, except free listings.

This attribute was introduced in April of 2022, to stop merchants from using the availability attribute for temporary stops (for example, because of website maintenance).

Is the Pause Attribute Required?

No, this attribute is optional. 

You can run Shopping Ads without ever touching the pause attribute.

How Is the Pause Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

The pause attribute serves to indicate whether a product should be included in ads. It doesn’t apply just to Shopping Ads, but also it affects Buy on Google, Display Ads, and Local Inventory Ads as well.

You can use pause to stop a product from showing, but note that when you do this, you are expected to quickly reinstate the product (in a matter of days).

The most common reason for using this attribute is when you have a product that’s running low on inventory, and you’re not expecting a restock for up to 14 days.

By using the pause attribute, you can temporarily suspend the product from showing up in Shopping Ads, while at the same organically selling through the remaining inventory.

Important note: after you block a product with the pause attribute, it may take a day or so to reactivate the product (i.e. lift the block).

Let’s take a look at the formatting requirements for this attribute.

Options for the Pause Attribute

Google supports only two options for this attribute: “ads” and “all.”

With “Ads”, you can pause products from Shopping, and Display placements.

With “All”, you can pause products from ads and from Buy on Google.

The formatting requirements are simple, you need to enter one of the two supported values.

If you prefer the text feed file format, just specify the value, for example: “ads.”

When you use XML feeds, the value for the pause attribute should be framed with a tag, for instance: <g:pause>ads</g:pause>.

Let’s take a look at ways to activate a pause for an item.

How To Add Pause to Your Product Feed

You have two options to add the pause attribute to your product feed: a feed rule or supplemental feed.

With feed rules, you can single out a specific product (those items that satisfy the same criteria, i.e. the rule) and change the value for pause for this item in the feed.

Another way to pause an item is through a supplemental feed. This option is great for making bulk changes at once, for example, when you need to block a whole group of products. 

Submit the product id and value for the pause attribute in two columns of a .csv file, this is enough to make a change using the supplemental feed.

Let’s check some misconceptions about use cases for the pause attribute.

Out of Stock vs Pause

As we already explained, Google introduced pause so that merchants can temporarily stop a product from showing up in ads. So, pause is the preferred option for doing this.

Most advertisers use the availability attribute to stop products.

If you select the value “out of stock” for availability, the product will not be served in ads. 

This “fix” works for now, but Google has started to caution advertisers against marking a product out of stock if it’s not really out of stock, and use the excluded destination attribute instead.

At this point, it’s unclear what is behind this, but it’s worth looking at alternatives to make sure you’re not running into potential disapprovals.

So if you need to inform customers that an item is out of stock, use the availability attribute. But if the interruption lasts less than two weeks, use the pause attribute.

Pause vs Excluded_destination

There is another attribute that serves to stop products from showing in ads: the excluded destination attribute.

These blocks apply to specific locations, for example, to block the product from Shopping Ads, but to serve it on all other locations (Buy on Google, free listings, Display ads, etc.).

So, advertisers might wonder which of the two (excluded destination/pause) to use. Especially since an excluded destination is often used to block products from free listings while keeping them on Google Shopping.

Again, pause is appropriate if the block is temporary (or less than 14 days), while excluded_destination is for instances when the item is blocked on a specific location longer than 14 days.

Let’s take a look at some of the common issues with this attribute.

Common Problems With the Pause Attribute

As we already mentioned several times, the pause attribute stops products from showing for 14 days. But what happens with the product after that?

This is the biggest issue with the attribute: product pause expired.

How to Fix: Product Pause Expired

Google will notify you when the product pause expires (you can find this in Diagnostics/issues affecting your products).

Once you identify the product that is affected by this issue, you can remove the pause. It might take more time to reactivate the product (one or more days) than to block it.

Potential Issues With the Pause Attribute

It’s likely that inappropriate use of out_of_stock via the availability attribute will result in item disapproval in 2023. To solve this, advertisers will need to use pause instead.

The Pause Attribute Has a Specific Use Case

If you have trouble determining whether to use the pause attribute or some of the other options (out of stock, excluding destination, or others), just keep in mind that pauses are temporary blocks.

Aside from this, it’s easy to apply a pause to an item – there are only two supported values, and solving product feed issues with pause is straightforward.

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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