Google Partner Badge: The new timeline and what advertisers need to know

Google Ads' new Partner Badge requirements, which force advertisers to use Google's recommendations, will not go into effect until 2021.

Google Partner Badges
Google Partner Badges

In February, Google Ads announced it would be rolling out new Google Partner Badge requirements, causing a major backlash among advertisers. The new requirements double the amount of ad spend necessary to earn a badge and also require advertisers to implement Google Ad recommendations based on the platform’s machine learning systems.

Initially, Google had planned to launch the new requirements in June, but, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the company has pushed the release date to 2021.

What are Google Partner Badges and how are they changing?

Google Partner Badges confirm advertisers have passed product certification exams and are up to date on Google Ads product knowledge. The current requirements involve advertisers meet performance standards based on overall ad revenue and growth; a 90-day ad spend requirement of $10,000 across managed accounts; and, at least, one user (someone with admin privileges or standard access to the account) be certified in Google Ads.

The new rules will require Google Partners meet a 90-day ad spend of $20,000; have, at least, 50% of users certified; and, maintain a 70% optimization score – a rating system that enforces advertisers adopt Google recommendations based on the platform’s machine learning processes.

CriteriaOld RequirementNew Requirement
PerformanceDeliver solid overall ad revenue and growth, and maintain and grow customer base.Maintain a quality score of 70% or higher. The score is based on accepting machine learning recommendations.
SpendMaintain 90-day ad spend of at least $10,000Maintain 90-day ad spend of at least $20,000
CertificationCompanies must have at least 1 user certified in Google AdsCompanies must have at least 50% of their users certified in Google Ads

The industry’s response to the coming changes

When Google first made the announcement, advertisers were quick to criticize the self-serving nature of the new requirements. At the time, Duane Brown, founder of the PPC ad agency Take Some Risk, tweeted in a #ppcchat thread:

How is specializations different from certifications? Sounds like a dodgy way to get everyone to take certifications. Is that really what Google wants? How does it show who’s the best of best?

Gil Gildner, another PPC advertiser, responded to Brown’s tweet:

I find the $20k threshold kinda laughable. Big problem I see is the automated suggestions. If it’s a question of building crappy campaigns and losing Google Partner…I’ll just lose the badge!

Pauline Jakober, the founder and CEO of PPC firm Group Twenty Seven, wrote on her company’s blog, “[The new requirements] essentially require Partners to put the goals of Google above the goals of their own clients.”

Greg Finn, partner at the digital marketing agency Cypress North, also pointed out major issues with Google’s new requirements, insisting the company was putting its own recommendations ahead of advertisers’ best interests.  

You should be ashamed of yourself. Forcing advertisers to adhere to @googleAds recommendations instead of client needs. Despicable. cc @WittedNote

Is there another option?

Google Partners versus Client Partners
Cypress North created the Client Partners badge as an alternative to the Google Partner badge

Google has acknowledged advertisers’ concerns over its coming requirements, but has not altered its original stance – instead, only delaying the requirements until 2021.

While advertisers currently have no other option than to embrace the new requirements when they take effect if they want to keep their Google Partner status, Finn has created an initiative to combat what he defines as “unacceptable and morally reprehensible” actions by Google. Shortly after Google’s announcement, Finn launched a “Client Partners Certified” badge. Separate from the Google Partner Badge program, the purpose of Finn’s badge is to show advertisers, “they won’t put Ad Platform profit over client performance.”

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Akvile DeFazio is the President of AKvertise, a social media advertising agency. She specializes in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter Ads. Follow @AkvileDeFazio