Google Launches New AdWords Tools And Certification Program For Ad Agencies

Google this morning announced a number of changes in the way it deals with advertising agencies around the world, from small search marketing shops to large traditional marketing household names.

Penry Price, Vice President, Global Agency Development at Google has blogged about the changes here and here.

In short, the search and Internet advertising giants aims to raise the bar for Google AdWords Certification, assist advertisers in finding and contacting certified partners more easily, and to lower costs for those who effectively help advertisers get the most out of Google AdWords, the Mountain View company’s popular Internet advertising service.

New AdWords Certification program

Google is retiring its Google Advertising Professionals (GAP) program, originally launched in November 2004, and replacing it with a new Google AdWords Certification program for agencies managing AdWords accounts on behalf of advertisers.

The distinction between individual and company certification remains.

(Funny sidenote: the ‘News’ landing page currently reads: “A lot has changed since 1994 when Google Advertising Professionals launched so we’re retiring the program and replacing with a rigorous, strategy focused version.” – who knew Google secretly started operating in the first half of the nineties?)

The new program provides agencies and their employees with new training materials that reflect recent changes in search marketing and AdWords functionality (think webinars, on-site training, etc.), tougher certification exams to test practical application of knowledge and best practices and advanced-level exams to “highlight competency in search, display, reporting and analysis”. Also: brand new badges! (embedded above)

Current Google Advertising Professionals will have a 6-month grace period to meet the new criteria and terms and conditions in order to retain their certified status.

Google Partner Search

Google Certified Partners can now opt in to Google Partner Search, a directory that helps advertisers find companies that best match their criteria. To show up in searches through Google Partner Search, agencies must opt in and fill in details about their core attributes and capabilities. Searches can be filtered by location, agency experience within a particular budget range, the types of services provided and the specific industry verticals served.

Google AdWords API pricing

Google has also announced preferred AdWords API pricing. This gives qualified Google Certified Partners who manage AdWords accounts on behalf of clients free use of the AdWords API, which allows developers to build applications that interact directly with the AdWords platform, based on managed client spend. To apply, agencies must have an active agency profile page and be compliant with the AdWords API terms and conditions. Google says it will start accepting applications for preferred AdWords API pricing on May 26, 2010.

During the beta test period, the AdWords API was free for all but only within certain quota limits. To calculate fees based on said quota, Google has a unit-based system in place. Each operation performed on an AdWords account, such as adding a keyword, consumes a certain number of API units, and developers basically get charged $0.25 – or local currency equivalent – per thousand units consumed (see detailed rate sheet for more information).

Here’s how free AdWords API units for preferred partners are calculated:

We calculate free AdWords API units for the developer token that’s approved for preferred AdWords API pricing using the amount of spend managed by the My Client Center associated with the API developer token. If you receive preferred pricing, we’ll provide you with 250 units for every $1 of AdWords spend managed.

For example, if you manage $10,000 in March, you’d receive 2,500,000 free API units in April. We’re continuing to update the way we calculate the amount of spend you manage and will update this help article when we have more information.

Find out more about the updated AdWords API pricing model here.

Advertisers and agencies alike, we want to hear from you:

How do you think these changes will affect you, if at all?