February 26, 2020

My thoughts on the Google Partner Program Changes

by Collin Slattery

When looking to hire a PPC agency, one of the things that you might look for, and that agencies feature, including us, is being a member of the Google Partners Program. Members of the this program are required to pass certification tests and maintain a certain level of performance in the accounts being managed.

The program is designed to help companies looking to hire a PPC agency be able to find one that has the experience and knowledge to manage their account properly. 

What Changes Google Made to the Program

Recently, Google has announced incredibly large changes to the Google Partners program that are set to roll out this June. Google made three major changes to the program.

Optimization Score counts toward certification

This is the biggest change and the one that will have the biggest impact. Google provides “recommendations” within the account for suggestions to “improve account performance” and these recommendations have been optional. Going forward, Google will count your adherence to the recommendations towards your ability to stay in the Partners program.

50% of users must be certified

This is a big change as historically you only needed one person to have the certifications. At least 50% of users with admin or standard access need to have passed the various certification exams. 

Spending threshold has been doubled

The amount of ad spend under management in the trailing 90 day period has gone from $10,000 to $20,000. This change doesn’t impact most agencies, including our, as our ad spend under management is 50+ times greater. 

Why I Think the Changes Are Terrible

These changes to the Partners program are terrible. The changes are designed to help google and hurt advertisers. This is particularly true with the requirement to follow Google’s recommendations. 

The recommendations that Google provides are often changes that purely benefit Google and do not benefit the advertiser. For example, one recommendation Google gives is to increase your budget. But what if the advertiser doesn’t have more budget to spend? Too bad. This is a strike against you as a Google Partner.

Google also pushes their automated systems like automated bidding strategies, responsive search ads, and more in the recommendations, regardless of whether or not they improve the performance for the advertiser. 

These changes make it so that agencies will have to choose between keeping their partner certification and doing the right thing for their client. 

The changes to the number of certified users also has negative impacts on clients. This is because Google also counts client access to their own accounts towards your certification numbers. 

We make sure our clients have full administrator access to their Google Ads accounts because it is their account and we believe in full client control. Under this new program, this client access will count as against our user total as far as certification is concerned. 

So for a company with 20 clients with administrator access and 3 employees, they will need 10 certified users, even though the company only has 3 people! So they will either need to take away admin access from clients or get 7 clients to waste time pointlessly taking the certifications. 

What We Will Be Doing as a Result of the Changes

We are extremely disappointed in the changes Google is making to the program. Our number one priority is to deliver on our clients’ goals to the best of our ability and always put those goals first. 

The new Google Partners program means that in some situations we will have to choose between our clients’ interests and Google’s interests. 

We will always choose our clients.

If prioritizing our clients over Google costs us our Partners badge, we are perfectly happy with that. We will not take any action that prioritizes keeping our Partners badge over the interests of our clients.

We can’t say for certain if we will lose our Partner badge after the changes roll out, but if we do, we are fine with that. 

We always have and always will put our clients first.

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