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Many Google advertisers received an email on Thursday about substantial changes coming to Google Partners – the badging and certification program for agencies that meet certain criteria.

The company also posted the news of the coming changes on the Partners website: “We’re excited to announce the launch of a new Google Partners program in mid-2020. You can look forward to a new badge, new status and updated product capabilities categories, as well as improved program benefits to better support the business needs of our Partners and their customers.”

There are also new requirements that might affect your Partner standing.

Spend threshold doubled. The 90-day spend requirement (across all clients under your manager account) is going up from $10,000 to $20,000. This could have a dramatic impact on consultants’ ability to qualify for Partner status.

More users need to get certified. Having one user Google Ads certified will no longer cut it. Agencies will need to have at least half of the users who have admin or standard access to their manager account take and pass the relevant certification tests (Search, Display, Video, Shopping).

This is potentially a very big change for even mid-sized agencies. (Take a look at your list, you might be surprised who — internally and externally — is on there.) For instructions on how to see who’s listed in those roles in your manager account and the certification status of individual users, see the bottom of this help page.

Optimization score evaluations. Agencies are going to have to pay (more) attention to the Recommendations tab. To determine whether an agency is meeting the performance requirements, Google says it will start evaluating the optimization score in your manager account that is located on the Recommendations tab. Google suggests agencies review the recommendations “to see the actions you can take to improve your performance.”

Note that in the Google Ads UI, the company states: “Dismissing recommendations will not count toward the account optimization requirement.”

That Google is emphasizing its own machine-learning generated recommendations may not be as big a change as it appears to be — it just may be more transparent. Google already evaluates client accounts to determine whether agencies are meeting performance standards (that, yes, are determined by Google). While you might not agree that your optimization score or Google’s recommendations reflect what’s in the best interest of your clients, you can bet that Google has already been relying on this type of evaluation criteria.

Full view of what’s changing. Below is Google’s comparison chart look at what’s changing, which you can find on this help page.

Why we care. If you currently have Partner status and want to keep it, you’ll want to carefully review these changes and prepare to meet the requirements when they take effect later this year.

The focus on optimization score and recommendations is an interesting development that I suppose we should have seen coming. “All of us PPC professionals had long noticed that the quality of suggestions has been definitely improving,” said Gianpaolo Lorusso of ADWorld Experience. “Now ignoring that section may also have important consequences on the Partner badge (as well as on the performance of the campaigns). So, do it at your own risk.”


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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