Google Merchant Center

How to Configure the Promotion Id Attribute in Google Product Feed

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 3 May 2023

Google Merchant Promotions are a great opportunity for advertisers to have their items stand out in Shopping ads. 

However, there are also a number of pitfalls that can stop you from arranging a killer promotion, and issues with the promotion id attribute is one of them.

We’ve dedicated an in depth article on Merchant Promotions specifically, so in this piece, we’ll focus on how to use the promotion_id attribute. 

We’ll explain what promotion_id is, Google’s formatting requirements for this attribute, and the right way to configure it!

This article is part of our Google Merchant Center Feed hub.

What Is the Promotion id Attribute in the Product Feed?

The promotion id attribute matches products with promotions. It’s very useful when advertisers run promotions for specific products (as opposed to promotions for all products) or when they run multiple promotions at the same time. 

Is the Promotion id Attribute Required?

Promotion_id is an optional product attribute.

That means that promotion ids are relevant only if your campaign is related to specific (a single or a group of) products. If the promotion applies to all SKUs in your inventory, then you don’t need promotion_id for your items.

How Is the Promotion id Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

Promotion_id is one way for advertisers to indicate to Google that a specific product is part of a specific promotion.

Once the product is identified as one that belongs to a promotion, Google uses this info to show the actual promotions in the Shopping Ads.

Note that promotion_id doesn’t not work with Free Listings

Using a promotion id is just one of three options available when configuring Merchant Promotions:

  1. Products with promotion id
  2. All products
  3. Products satisfying a custom filter

In this context, promotion id can help you avoid one of the following pitfalls:

  • Applying free shipping to all products (when you only want to offer free shipping for products included in the promotion); or
  • Applying a discount to products that aren’t on sale (when you only want to offer a discount to products included in the promotion).

If you choose the promotion id correctly, you can eliminate these mistakes.

Country limitations for Merchant Promotions

Also, Merchant Promotions within Google are available only in select countries (Australia, UK, USA, India, Germany, France, and Canada). If your campaigns are active in other countries, you can use “sale price annotations” to stand out against other competitors in your market.

With sale price, the discount is offered on your landing page, while with promotions the discount is shown in a pop-up window (for example, a coupon that buyers can enter at checkout). 

So, the sale price applies to every visitor who’ll land on your website, but the promotion applies only to those customers who fulfill the condition, for example, if they buy one item, they get another one for free.

Make sure not to confuse the two (i.e. sale price and promotion id) or use them one on top of the other, i.e. to offer a generic discount to all buyers (without promotion id) and a promotion to specific products defined with promotion_id.Next, let’s check the formatting requirements for promotion_id.

Options for Promotion id

The format for promotion_id is flexible, however, it needs to match the way a specific promotion is configured.

Values for the promotion id attribute can have up to 50 characters, and these characters can be alphanumeric, underscores, and dashes.

It’s a repeated field, which means that the value for the attribute can be submitted multiple times, but not more than 10 times. So, a single product can be part of up to 10 promotions at the same time. (I have never seen this happen though)

To specify this, separate each promotion_id with a comma, and provide a list of different promotion_ids in consecutive order. 

Advertisers can provide a value for promotion_id in two file formats, here are some examples:

  • For text feeds: “little_black_dress-end_of_summer_sale”
  • For XML feeds: <g:promotion_id>little_black_dress-end_of_summer_sale<g:promotion_id>

Google will automatically remove white spaces before and after the value you provide for promotion_id, so avoid using them (you can use dashes and underscores as in the example above).

Important note: The promotion id attribute can’t be changed once a promotion goes live.

Also, it’s not recommended to change the promotion_id because Google uses it to track the performance history for that item. If you do change it, you’ll lose the performance data up to that point.

Let’s check the methods for assigning promotion id in Google Merchant Center.

How To Add Promotion id to Your Product Feed

There are three ways to add values for promotion id to items in your feed:

  1. Directly in Google Merchant Center

With this option, you need to edit entries directly for each item.

  1. Using feed rules

With Feed Rules you define the criteria of when a product needs to be included in a promotion for instance, all items that belong to the same brand. 

Once you set up the feed rule, GMC will add the promotion_id column to your product feed with values for eligible products. 

If the feed rule is not properly configured for the promotion id attribute, Google will reject the whole promotion (reason: unmapped).

  1. By adding a promotions feed

Methods 1 & 2 will be sufficient for most advertisers. But if your promotions are more complex, you can manage them with a promotion feed.

This is a spreadsheet that maps each product to a specific promotion id.

While it seems very similar, a promotions feed is NOT the same as a supplemental feed.

When setting up your promotions feed that contains all of the promotion ids, you want to make sure you follow the specific promotion feed specifications.

Common Problems With the Promotion id Attribute

Usually, if a product feed attribute is not configured correctly, the product can be disapproved.

This is not the case for problems with the promotion id attribute.

When something goes wrong, your promotion will be rejected, and therefore not shown in your Shopping Ads.

Since the review process for Merchant Promotions can take a bit of time, it’s best to configure everything ahead of time.

Value Doesn’t Match Promotion Set Up

The most common issue with the promotion id attribute is: the attribute has a value that doesn’t match promotion settings.

We discussed this earlier in the article. 

If during setup you’ve selected to include all products (instead of specific products) in your promotion, you don’t need promotion ids for your items. 

As a result, Google will disapprove of your promotion as a result.

Promotion_id Best Practices

Another potential issue is when values are not provided according to Google’s data specification guidelines for the promotion id attribute. Here are some tips to avoid issues due to such formatting mistakes:

Use a unique promotion id

Don’t reuse or recycle values that were used as a reference for other promotions, even if these promotions finished a long time ago, or the reference was used for a different item.

Don’t use symbols or unsupported characters

Characters have to be formatted according to UTF-8 encoding. Symbols and function characters aren’t supported as well.

Values for promotion_id are case sensitive

You can use the same reference in all caps to differentiate between two separate promotion ids, on top of using dashes and underscores.

Generally speaking, it’s always better to double-check whether promotion_id is configured correctly before you go on and set up a Merchant promotion.

Manage Multiple Promotions Using Promotion id

In most cases, you will add promotions to all or selected products.

But in some cases, you might need to use the promotion id attribute to get more specific.

The promotion id attribute allows you to match specific products to specific promotions. 

It’s easy to format values for promotion_id: the rules are adjustable, and you can use different cases, dashes, or underscores to differentiate separate ids. 

The hard part is to double check promotion settings, because if you fail to do so, your whole campaign may suffer for it.

Google doesn’t charge advertisers for promotions, so it would be a shame to sabotage your own campaign just because you haven’t configured promotion_id correctly.

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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