In December, High Position attended the Google Partners – Accelerate event at the Google European Headquarters in Dublin. As well as some fantastic presentations on the state of Digital Marketing and Pay Per Click Advertising, the subject of AdWords training and exams was discussed at great length, in particular a new Google AdWords Shopping Exam. For any Partner agency, updates on the accreditation process are incredibly important, especially as Google has made huge efforts to ensure that the credibility and integrity of the Partner badge is maintained, and the distinction between the experts and hobbyists is made crystal clear.
Passing AdWords exams has always been part of the AdWords accreditation process, even prior to the launch of the re-vamped Partner status in 2013, passing the exams not only shows that you know what you are doing but has a bearing on the status of the company you work for; the exams can be linked to a searchable Google Partner page. The updated Partner accreditation took into account other factors including the number of accounts being managed and spend going through an agency. This meant that anyone displaying the new Partner badge had to meet several criteria, not just an exam pass, and a number of people found that they no longer qualified.
I’ve been taking the AdWords exams for six years now and my main gripe with them is that they don’t keep pace with the rate of change that I experience on a daily basis working with actual PPC accounts. I’d even go so far as to say that on some occasions the questions have been out of date. I guess it’s understandable, there have been so many updates and new features rolled out in the past 18 months: in 2013 alone there were over 500 changes!
So it was great to hear first hand that Google intends to improve the AdWords examination process in future, making it more relevant to the day-to-day management of AdWords accounts in 2015.
Anyone signed up for the Partners Programme will already be aware of the more recent additions to the exam portfolio. As well as the Search and Display exams there are now Analytics and Video exams. These have been particularly useful for PPC account managers as they address two emerging trends that we have seen in recent months; the desire for better reporting and an increased interest in YouTube advertising. For an agency it means there’s an opportunity to build a team of experts to meet the demands of Paid Search campaigns in 2015, with each team member having specific, specialist skills.
So Google’s announcement that they’ll be adding a Shopping exam to this growing list makes complete sense and is very welcome. Looking back on 2014, I was asked questions about Product Listing Ads (PLA), or Google Shopping Ads, more than any other area of Paid Search. At the beginning of the year this was down to the fact that people were still coming to terms with the fact that it was no longer a free product, but as the year progressed the questions changed from ‘why’ to ‘how’… ‘How do I get involved in Product Listing Ads?’
The new exam covers all aspects of Google Shopping from creating a Merchant Centre right through to managing products and optimising bid strategies in AdWords. The exam is currently only available in the USA but, according to the guys we talked to at the Accelerate event, we can expect it to be rolled out in the UK and Europe very soon. And according to the presentation that we saw in Dublin this will be the first of many such AdWords exam updates.