In 2005 Google launched the Google Advertising Professionals (GAP) program to certify individuals and companies who had completed the training, and finished the exams. At the time there were a lot of “experts” who would build or maintain campaigns. who themselves had very little experience or knowledge of the system. The GAP certification was introduced to give businesses a way of qualifying the knowledge of the individual or company and ensuring a more beneficial relationship between businesses.
Over the years this program has changed face quite a number times, in April 2010 the program was changed to the Google Adwords Certification, and then in 2013 this was again changed to the Google Partners program.
Similar to previous iterations, the Google Partners program also requires you to pass a series of milestones before you are rewarded with your certification. These include;
- Passing at least 2 of the 3 exams (Advertising Fundamentals, Advanced Search & Advanced Display)
- Hitting a spend threshold of at least $10k within the last 90 days
- Demonstrating best practices when setting up and maintaining campaigns
I have already blogged previously when we passed certification, but I just wanted to touch on some of the intricacies of the certification and highlight the ‘Best Practices’ requirement as it is often overlooked.
As you know, when running an MCC Adwords account you will have multiple sub-accounts for your clients and it is these which are evaluated to determine your Best Practice score. Really its a measure of how knowledgable you are on the system and whether these are being put into practice on your live accounts.
Google don’t actually give you a clear idea of how the score is calculated but they do give recommendations on how to improve your score using some features you may not be familiar with, such as targeting demographics, using ad scheduling etc.
To reach the Best Practices pass threshold you must pass the 60% mark as shown here –
This really is the minimum requirement to demonstrate a passable working knowledge of the system, as you can see Google even mark the Avg. Google Partner score which is much closer to the 80% mark.
When we first started out we signed up for the Google Engage for Agencies program, we were already managing a handful of campaigns successfully and this would allow us to get some free goodies too such as Adwords Vouchers, Telephone Help (which was very new for Google at the time) and we also had access to the Certification program.
At the time we had a number of small business clients for our organic SEO, and with the vouchers and pitch assistance given by Google we managed to help a number of these companies start their first Adwords campaign. It also coincided with a Google Engage competition they were running and because of the new sign-ups we won £1,000 worth of Google merchandise!
As we were running a number of smaller campaigns it was hard to implement some of the more advanced features of Adwords, especially when it conflicted with the clients requirements. We had a few clients who were only interested in new visitors from search, the typical top and right hand side ads you are used to seeing – even after explaining the possibilities of the Display Network, or even PLA campaigns, they weren’t interested.
I am assuming the Best Practices score is calculated based on percentages because as time went on a few of those clients dropped out, this meant the percentage of advanced campaigns increased in comparison to simple setup campaigns, and we saw our Best Practices score rise!
Since then we have been expanding on these improvements for our client campaigns, and with the help of the Google supplied materials we are finding it much easier to implement some of the advanced features for our clients. With the historical performance stats we are also able to provide industry related projections, and using our in-house designers we are also producing Display Network ads (static and animated!) meaning we are able to supply and build all elements of the campaign (we have even created Product Spreadsheets for PLA campaigns).
Only the other day did I log back in to the Google Partners dashboard to see our updated Best Practices score, showing we are now in the top 3% –
This is great news for us as an agency as well as reassuring news for our clients!