COVID-19 makes Google Ads delay controversial changes to its Partners badge program until 2021

Agencies unhappy with the upcoming changes to the Google Partners badge program received a temporary reprieve from Google Ads. Google emailed its partners to inform them that the new changes were delayed until 2021 because of the impact coronavirus has had on businesses.

Google Partner Coronavirus
New Google Partners badge program requirements delayed due to coronavirus pandemic

In February 2020, Google Ads announced significant changes to it Google Partners badge program. Three of the most impactful changes included:

  1. Maintaining a quality score of 70% or higher, which is calculated in part by accepting a certain amount of machine learning recommendations
  2. Maintaining a 90-day ad spend of at least $20,000, which is twice the current amount
  3. Having at least 50% of a company’s users be certified in Google Ads, versus the current requirement of only needing one user

Many digital marketing agencies are upset with the new changes and believe the new requirements are onerous. Greg Finn, Partner at Cypress North, told Coywolf News in February 2020 that the new Google Partners program now favors compliancy over expertise. He went on to say that while some Google recommendations are helpful, others are downright harmful to the client performance.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, agencies like Cypress North were relieved when they received the following email from Google Ads. The message stated that they were delaying the changes to the Partners badge program until 2021 because of coronavirus.

Dear valued partners,

As the circumstances around COVID-19 continue to evolve, we understand that this state of uncertainty can be difficult for you, your families, your customers, and your business. Our thoughts are with all of those who’ve been affected, and we want you to know that we’re here for you.

To help you focus on what matters most, we’ve decided to postpone the June 2020 launch of the new Google Partners program and new badge requirements until 2021. If you’ve had a badge or specializations on or after January 1, 2020, you’ll be able to keep your status until the 2021 launch. If you don’t yet have a badge or specializations, you’ll still be able to earn and retain your status until the launch by meeting the current requirements. To learn more, visit our FAQ page.

We hope this change helps give you and your customers the time you need to adjust to the ongoing developments, and we will continue to provide you with the content, tools, and insights to support you moving forward.

Please stay safe, healthy, and connected as we work through this together.

Thanks for being a great partner,

Google Partners team

Many agencies treated the delay as a reprieve, but also as a sign of hope. The postponement provides them more time to try and convince Google Ads to modify the new requirements. Greg Finn tweeted that it gives us more time to fight these egregious changes. Might draft up an email with the full plan this weekend and send along.

It’s unknown if Google Ads will be willing to adjust the new requirements. What is clear is that agencies are grateful to have more time to make their cases.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw