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Goodbye Google Advertising Professionals Program, Hello Google AdWords Certification

Google AdWords Certification PartnerGoogle’s longstanding Google Advertising Professionals program is going away, to be replaced with a new Google Adwords Certification program, Google has announced. The change means those certified through GAP will have six months to recertify under the new program. The change may also allow more companies to gain certification, as the overall required spend level has been lowered. More below.

Google Advertising Professionals launched in 2004 and is being phased out in place of the Google AdWords Certification program. Part of this change is to offer more training materials, more challenging certification exams, offer more advanced exams to test search, display, reporting and analysis and a shiny redesigned Certified Partner badge.

This change means that those who want to be individually certified now need to pass two exams. Companies wanting to be certified need to have one individually certified employee and have a spend of $10,000 per quarter.

Google is also relaunching the AdWords Professionals Search, which quietly went live in December 2009. The new name for the search is the Google Partner Search.

Google has also changed the pricing of their AdWords API usage structure. There is now a new preferred pricing section that takes you through to see if you qualify. This means some developers will get free API units based on managed client spend. You are eligible to apply for preferred pricing if your company is a Google AdWords Certified Partner and AdWords API-based tools remain in compliance with the AdWords API terms and conditions, including the required minimum functionality. More details on this at the AdWords API Blog and AdAge has some other details on this as well.

Postscript: I asked Google what happens to those GAP certified advertisers, do they lose their certification? Google sent me the following reply:

Yup, they’re still certified. That said, partners who are GAP certified will have to meet the new criteria, along with new terms and conditions, within a six-month period.

To be certified, each company must have one employee who has passed the Google Advertising Fundamentals exam, along with one Advanced exam (there are now four exams which cover a range of topics — Google Advertising Fundamentals, Advanced Search Advertising, Advanced Display Advertising, and Advanced Reporting and Analysis — instead of one broad exam). Additionally, the company must reach a 90-day minimum spend criteria of $10,000 USD or currency equivalent — which was previously $100k — and agree to new terms and conditions.

The GAP exam always had to be renewed every two years. The broad AdWords Certification exam (Google Advertising Fundamentals) is still valid for two years. However, the the advanced exams (Advanced Search Advertising, Advanced Display Advertising, Advanced Reporting and Analysis) that must be renewed annually, so it won’t be constant recertification.

Google sent over more details about the terms for individual certification:

  • The spend requirement has been removed (formerly $1,000 USD over 90
  • Individuals must achieve a passing score on two exams — Google Advertising Fundamentals, along with one advanced-level exam — as opposed to one exam.
  • Formerly, these people were designated as a Google Qualified Individual. Now, they are Individually Qualified in Google AdWords.
  • Individual badges will be phased out and replaced with certificates and an individual profile page hosted by Google – see example

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