Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(312) 884-9017
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Introducing Google AdWords Certified Partners. Google Advertising Professional Program is...

Introducing Google AdWords Certified Partners. Google Advertising Professional Program is being shut down.

Google has been doing some serious thinking about the GAP (Google Advertising Professional) program for at least three years.

A while ago they redid the entire learning center. No one seems to completely understand this change as all their nice videos are gone replace by text and a fewer number of lessons.

Then AdWords launched Agency Land.

And today they launch their new certification program.

Here are the main differences:

Individual Qualification

Old Days: One test and spend requirement.

Now: Two tests (one basic and any one of the advanced tests) and no spend requirement.

This seems that the individual qualification is more a resume bullet point than a way of attracting business.

Certified Partner

Old Days: This was a qualified company. Qualified companies required 3 GAPs and a nice spend requirement.

Now: Need one Individual Qualification and spend $10k/quarter. This is a much lower threshold to become a partner than the old ‘qualified company’ logo.


While Google still offers logos for analytics, website optimizer, etc – the AdWords Reseller and AdWords Company qualified logos showed both a combination of size (more than 1 employee) and spend.

AdWords Reseller

There is so much speculation around the reseller programs demise or massive change that I won’t even speculate here. It is the only section of the Advanced AdWords Book that Google legal & Google marketing asked me to alter.

Free API  Credits

Here’s the really good news. Agencies will now get API credits based upon client spend. In the old days, an individual advertiser or reseller could get free quote points, but agencies had to pay for it. Now, just like individual advertisers; agencies can be eligible for credits if they have an agency page (a free listing page on Google’s site that you can create once you’re a partner).

You get 250 units per $1 spent. This is an excellent ratio of free API units. Few companies are going to need to buy additional API units (and if they do – they might need to examine their their usage first).

[update]Google called me to make sure people realized that you didn’t just get API credits by having a profile page. You still need to apply for the credits[/update]

What’s Next

Individual qualification has become a bullet point. Certified partners are just old GAPs with one good client ($10/quarter). The reseller program is going under major restructuring. It seems the only logical step is to make the old AdWords Resellers a program for large agencies.

There’s definitely a few tiers that is not well recognized here:

  • The large agency: $1 million month or quarter. These agencies handle big accounts and are splitting the spend between multiple channels.
  • The medium agency: $1 million / year, with 100 clients and 3-5 GAPs. If this agency gets 1 or 2 big clients, they might be 2-3 million/year in spend, but most of their clients are small.
  • The small personal big client agency: This agency has 1-3 GAPs, but has one or two huge clients and spends $100k/month or more
  • The small personal small spend agency: This agency has 1-3 GAPs, 10-40 clients per GAP, and manages roughly $50k-$250k of spend per month.

Google does not need this many tiers of logos. That I wouldn’t claim. However, having the above 4 agencies using the same Certified Partner logo that having one client who spend $3.5k/month will earn you doesn’t seem right either.

Expect to see a lot of posts about the new tests. The toughness of the new advanced tests (I haven’t taken any yet – I’m hoping they are *hard* and fair). And speculation about how to recognize those larger agencies.

No Comments

  1. David
    April 26, 2010 at 7:29 am · Reply

    So i went to all the trouble of doing the agencyland training and i thought you would get some little badge or something useful out of it, but nothing…

    I finally got around to getting my adCenter adExcellence exam done today, is there any point doing the new AdWords exam or just wait until they finish the changes?

    I agree with your points about the requirements for higher level spends that sit somewhere between AdWords Company and AdWords Resellers but they need to get back into educating the consumers about the programs before they add more badges.

    • Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
      April 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm · Reply

      You’re current certification is good for 6 months; so I’d just wait until you have to take it so all the random changes are fleshed out first.

      The certifications don’t mean much unless consumers know about them – and that’s always been the issue – general consumer awareness.

  2. Brian Blades
    April 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm · Reply

    Don’t think I agree with this approach by Google. We were previously an AdWords Reseller before it was cancelled, then relegated to “Company” status. With millions of dollars per year and hundreds of accounts under management, we’ve now been put in the same category as lesser experienced agencies. Because we use our Qualified Company status in much of our advertising material, I’m afraid of what impact this may have on our potential clients deciphering the difference of proficiency between us and our competitors. I brought this scenario up to our rep when they cancelled the Reseller program and they understood our concerns, but apparently haven’t found a solution.

    • Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
      April 27, 2010 at 7:19 am · Reply

      I had a conversation with Google yesterday about your very concern. I think its a very valid one.

      It seems that their primary purpose is to make the qualification harder; yet easier for anyone to get spend wise. The second purpose was to make things easier for consumers to understand.

      Well – if consumers don’t know it exists then it can’t be complex. One of my issues has always been that they don’t push this program enough for those who tried AdWords and failed or those who don’t want to do it.

      But then again, what should they do (for their conversions) show that it’s 5 minutes to set up or focus on showing how hard it is and that you need to hire someone?

      Its the reseller/qualified company marketplace that I personally think needs a bit more definition/badge/recogonition right now.

  3. Silvio
    April 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm · Reply

    I’ve taken both exams, and I’ll say the exams are a bit more difficult than the previous GAP, 120 questions, 2 hours, and the pass rate is now 85%. The Advanced exam requires a good knowledge of Adwords, but I think is hard and fair.

    Great post, and I couldn’t agree more with all your points.

    I look forward to reading your book which I would strongly recommend to anyone who wants to further his advanced Adwords knowledge.

  4. Brian Blades
    April 27, 2010 at 11:33 am · Reply

    I’ve always said that the recognition of the GAP and GAC brand was undervalued. Google never wanted to go too far out on a limb for the agencies in terms of promoting their proficiencies and what they’re capable of doing for those that have failed with AdWords in the past.

    I think they can at least start with giving some better information in the certificate about what the qualification really means. It should explain in some manner of detail that this individual or company has demonstrated an advanced level of understanding and experience that is will help others achieve better success. Right now it just says you passed a test and have spent some money… can’t imagine that instills a lot of confidence in people.

    My other comment on tiers would to simply put it into a situation of accounts under management, spend requirements, years of being a GAP, or some combination of them. Passing a basic exam and spending a few dollars a month doesn’t come close to exemplifying the level of experience that agencies like ourselves have over others in the field. I think Google has some level of responsibility to its advertisers to provide that information.

  5. mike
    May 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm · Reply

    Brad – thanks for the post & update.
    Yes I think ‘hard & fair’ sums the tests up pretty well. Certainly a practical knowledge is required – this isn’t like the old exams that you could pass by having the help centre open in another window!

    I noticed the Certified Training Partner badge – is this going to replace the Seminar Leader or S4S program?
    Any details anywhere about this?

    (The book’s great too by the way. Great to see that much detail in an AdWords book… we’re looking forward to CK launch…)


    • Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
      May 3, 2010 at 8:27 am · Reply


      So far there’s nothing from Google about the other logos that exist (Seminar trainer, analytics, website optimizer, etc). However, I doubt they will support two very looking logos and programs so I’d expect them to go to one look eventually.

      I think the biggest question will be on the analytics front. As with Google Qualified Company (which is gone) one had to prove $100k/quarter in spend. With the one analytics logo – you have to prove 3 clients who pay for analytics. Will this go away making this logo easier to get as well?

      So far I don’t know – but wouldn’t surprise me.

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