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Google announced yesterday that it is "retiring" its Google Advertising Professionals program and that a new one, the Google AdWords Certification program, will be taking its place.
The good news: the previous $1,000 minimum 90-day ad spend required has been eliminated for individuals who would like to participate, and the minimum 90-day ad spend for agencies has been reduced to $10,000 from $100,000. That means that more individuals and agencies will have the opportunity to participate.
Additionally, Google is introducing preferred AdWords API pricing. Depending on the spend of their clients, agencies can even earn free API units.
Google hopes that the preferred pricing "will encourage agencies and developers to experiment with new strategies, expand the functionality of their tools, and build more comprehensive client campaigns without worrying about increased costs."
Finally, certified individuals and agencies will get to show off a new Certified Partner badge that includes 'Click to Verify' functionality and can opt into a Google Partner Search portal that gives advertisers the ability to search for certified entities that meet their criteria.
The potentially bad news: individuals and agencies that want to participate will need to complete a more rigorous certification process. That process demands that an individual or individual or agency employee pass a broad Google Advertising Fundamentals exam as well as one of four advanced exams.
The four advanced exams are Google Advertising Fundamentals, Advanced Search Advertising, Advanced Display Advertising, and Advanced Reporting and Analysis. In raising the bar, Google will be offering additional training materials designed "to help agencies better understand recent changes in search marketing and AdWords functionality."
As AdAge notes, the new program is a sign that Google is paying a little more attention to agencies. And while agencies will still need to meet the AdWords Certification program requirements to have fees waived, waiving the fees that existed under the Advertising Professionals program attract more agencies. And that would certainly be a good thing for Google as its relationship with the agency world evolves and matures.