Pres:Digital Marketing - Data Feed Management

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Digital Marketing - Data Feed Management

Digital Marketing - Data Feed Management

Title Digital Marketing - Data Feed Management
Target group Students, Beginners
Topics Data Feed Management
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Public summary

Data Feed Management is the ongoing process of optimizing data feeds for better results. There are infinite ways to manage and optimize feeds.



This is the overall framework of the Digital Marketing couse. We will start with explaining the elements of an online marketing plan. Than we will zoom in on the different marketing aspects based on the customer journey. We start with those online media most suitable to reach consumers and slowly move down the funnel. In the end we discuss customer loyalty which has as goal to re-start the entire process from the beginning.

  • What is a data feed?
  • What is data feed management?
  • When are data feeds used?
  • What are shopping channels?
  • Basic data feed mapping
  • Transferring data feeds
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A data feed is a document that contains a list of products and for each product, all product-specific information. The document can have any format or layout but it is comparable to an excel file.

  • Data Feed Management is the ongoing process of optimizing data feeds for better results.
  • Main optimization types:
    • Source quality
    • Meet the channel requirements
    • Optimize the feed quality
    • Optimize ROI
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Source Quality In order to create good data feeds, the source should be of high quality. The source is usually the product data in the shop. If information is missing for many products, this will not only cause a bad shopping experience, but it will also result in poor data feeds. Making sure that the basic product information is complete is a priority before even getting started with the feeds.

Meet the channel requirements The first thing you do when creating and optimizing a feed for a shopping channel is making sure you meet all the requirements. See for examples:

Optimize the feed quality A feed may meet all requirements and contain lots of extra information and categories; there are still many ways to optimize it. An example: f attributes like color or size are not in your source feed as a separate field, you can often take this information from other fields, like description, and turn them into separate fields.

Optimize ROI Optimizing the campaign performance goes hand in hand with data feed optimization. There are various ways to optimize your data feed in order to increase your campaign RoI. A few examples:


Data feeds are used by web shops, to advertise their products on shopping channels like Google Shopping, Comparison Shopping Engines, Affiliate Networks, Marketplaces, etc.

Requirement: These channels are only able to list the products if merchants upload their product information (in a data feed) to the channels.

Every shop has an assortment of products in their database. Per product you have your title, image, description, price, delivery time, shipping cost and everything else you need to sell your product. If you want more exposure or more traffic you can choose to sell your products on an external site. When you want your products on this external channel you will need a (product) data feed. Basically, a product data feed is an export of your products in a format like xml or csv. When you provide your product data feed to an external site, they will use it to import and publish your products on their site. A product data feed always needs a unique item code per article. It also needs as much information as you have, and the more the better.

Advertising products on shopping channels After receiving all product information in a data feed, the channels understand what products the merchant is selling. The channel can now list the products in its own categories, compare them with other products and rank them according to price or other specific features.

Channels receive large volumes of products. The only way for them to categorize, rank and list these products is to receive all products in a feed and automatically process them. A data feed with all relevant product information is not only a convenient way for merchants and channels to exchange information; uploading a data feed is the only way for merchants to advertise their products on shopping channels.

The more the external site shows on their own site, the more information they want in your product data feed. 


Shopping channels are websites where consumers are searching for products and where merchants can advertises/sell.


The most popular shopping channel is Google Shopping. Consumers who ‘google’ a product, will see a block of product ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). These ads are served from Google Shopping, which is a campaign type in Google AdWords, Google’s advertising section. The text ads and the organic results, presented on the same SERP are not considered a shopping channel, even though they are a channel to sell though just as much as Google Shopping, because they are not product ads.


Google Shopping is also Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE). A CSE is a (‘destination’) website where consumers go to search and/or compare products. On a CSE, a consumer can find many different webshops that are all offering the product that he is interested in. He can compare all offers for price or certain product features or anything else, like delivery time or cost.

Four basics:

  • Required fields
  • Field names
  • Formats
  • Categories
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Every merchant is able to export all his product information from his store. That export is unfortunately not suitable for the channels to which he needs to upload it. Every channel has its own feed specifications and they are always different from whatever is in your store. The basics of data feed mapping are therefore all about creating a data feed that contains all the required information in the appropriate format. The four basics are:

  • Required fields
  • Field names
  • Formats
  • Categories


Every channel has a list of fields that they must have. Often, this involves fields like ID, Title, Price and URL. All products without these fields will be disapproved, so they will not be advertised. A merchant that does not have some of these fields in his feed has three options:

  • Create these fields in his store and add a value for each product
  • Add a field and enter a fixed value for all products, for example: Condition = New
  • Derive the field from other data in his feed, using a data feed tool. For example: add a field for Color and take the values from the description.


Google requires an “ID”, but the Merchant may have his identifier in a field called “SKU”. The field names often do match the requirements. The Merchant needs to use a tool that automatically exports his feed in the format of the channel or use a data feed tool to make sure that all fields are mapped properly.

Format has two meanings:

  • It can be the file type and it can be the exact specification of the content of a feed.
  • CSV and XML are the most used file formats.
  • Within a CSV or XML file the format may differ. For example:
    • The name of columns may differ (ID, ProductID, Identifier, ...)
    • The structure of data may differ (9,99 or 9.99)
  • Most shopping channels have their own format.
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Teacher notes: Format has two meanings: It can be the file type and it can be the exact specification of the content of a feed

The most-used formats are CSV, XML, TXT and Json. CSV and XML are the most common and most online shops are able to export their product information in one of these formats.

Feed specification Each shopping channel has its own format. They require all customers to upload a feed according to their own feed specification – that is the only way they can process all product information. Unfortunately, none of the channels have the same format, so merchants that advertise on multiple channels have to create a separate data feed for each channel. A feed specification describes the file format that is required and how the content should be in the feed.


Each channel has its own categories. Channel visitors will often click a category and a sub-category when they are looking for a product. Making sure that each product is in the right (sub-sub-)category is therefore not only important for the channel but also for the merchant. So the channels want the merchant to add the appropriate channel category to his data feed for each of his products. Obviously, just like with field names, the merchant’s product types do not match the channel categories. The easy way out is to add just one category for all products (“clothing”), but both channel and merchant are better off if each of the merchant’s product types is matched to the most appropriate (sub-sub-)category. Mapping categories can best be done with a data feed tool.


When your data feed is ready to go, you have to transfer (export/import) the file to the different shopping channnels.

It is important that the data feed is updated frequently, because the product information in a web shop changes constantly.

Examples are:

  • Products get sold and are eventually sold out (out-of-stock)
  • New products are added to the shop
  • Some products will be discontinued.
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It is important that the data feed is updated frequently, because the product information in an online shop changes constantly.


  • Products get sold and are eventually sold out (out of stock)
  • New products are added to the shop
  • Some products will be discontinued.

It is important for the retailer not to advertise products that are not available: Interested consumers will click on his product ad (and the retailer pays for each click) only to be disappointed when they find out that this product is sold out.

Data feed optimization starts with exporting all product data from your store. There are four ways to do that:

  • Export to desktop;
  • Export to URL/FTP;
  • Export by a Shopping Cart App;
  • Export via the Shopping Cart API.
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When the data feed for a channel is ready, it should be uploaded. There are four ways to upload the data feed to a channel:

  • Manually;
  • From a URL;
  • FTP;
  • API.
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  • Select a large retailer
  • Try to find which channels he uses
    • Comparison sites
    • Search engines
    • Affiliate networks
  • Does he offer the same on every channel?
    • Assortment
    • Prices
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  • Basics: channels, channel requirements, feed quality
  • Used for: comparison sites, affiliate networks, search engines, market places.
  • Technical concepts: feed mapping, (required) field names, formats (CSV/XML), uploading (FTP, URL API, Manually).
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