I got an email from the good people of AdWords this weekend: “Current Certified Partners will not automatically qualify for the new Partner badge.” What’s all this then?!
The “Google Partner Program” replaces the “Google Certified Partner Program” which is/was the company-level certification Google bestows on agencies who are better-skilled at running PPC campaigns on behalf of advertisers. The email informs certified people of the change and goes on to outline some differences, most of which have to do with how it’ll be easier to lose the designation.
To maintain Google’s ordainment, thou shalt: “Follow Google best practices: Demonstrate in your accounts that you’ve mastered the essentials covered in the Google certification exams…” There’s even an oath, the “Partner’s Pledge.” Google is also disclosing they’re harvesting data from AdWords and MCC accounts to identify lousy SEMs: “We look at signals that indicate your clients are receiving excellent service, such as account activity, client retention, and whether you are making the most of their budgets, big or small.”
So the emphasis now is on keeping certification, which can be terminated by the subjective judgment of a member of the Google clergy who can strip heretic SEMs of their clerical collars and nun’s habits (partner badges) if they are spotted not loving Google enough.
One of the reasons for the certification’s existence is that performance marketing is an industry infamous for being a place where everyone claims they’re experts though no one has any credentials. How is an advertiser to know who’s competent enough to hire?
Of all the benefits of certification, Google has got the idea that the most sought-after carrot they’re holding is an online link to a badge image that an agency can display on their website. Most changes are conveyed in badge-centered language which describes this badge as the actual purpose of certifying.
Re-defining certification as something that can be snatched away from lousy search hucksters is a good development overall and my comparisons to excommunication procedures are in good humor. Still, “because we feel like it” is now a policy-supported reason to revoke the designation of those who stray from the doctrine! If everyone followed that same doctrine, we’d all have a better Internet.