For those Digital Marketers who use Google's certification test as a way to stay on top of Google's Digital Marketing products, in 2015 many of us where happy to hear of Google's new program, then called "The 5pecialist Challenge". The reason for the name "5pecialist Challenge" was you had to complete all 5 Google qualifications (AdWords Search, AdWords Display, Video, Shopping, and Mobile Advertising) to achieve "5pecialist Challenge" status.
Google Certification vs qualification vs certificate?
Because I'll be referring to qualifications, certifications and certificates, throughout this post it will makes sense to provide a little clarity, because frankly it may be confusing if not.
Technically an individual takes a "qualification exam" to get Google Qualified in the Google Partners Certificate program. The Google Partners program is presently free and so are all exams. As of August 2017, the following partner exams are available AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Video Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Shopping Advertising for what is now called the "Google Specialist Challenge", and additionally they now offer 2 other exams, the Google Analytics individual qualification, and the Mobile Sites qualification.
Please be advised, early in 2018 Google moved certification to Academy For Ads and has added many new certification opportunities.
Once an individual has passed an exam (see passing requirements below), they become "Google Qualified" in that program. If you pass 2 exams, the search fundamental exam and any additional advanced exam you become qualified to "certify" a company or agency. So when you hear people saying they are "Google Certified" they technically mean that they have passed at least the 2 exams required to meet the requirement to be a "Google Certified Partner" company. To become a Google Certified Partner, having 2 employees that have passed the 2 minimum qualification exams is 1 of 3 requirements. The other 2 are, manage a minimum quarterly spend, and finally Google tracks performance in their client center and you must maintain a minimum quality threshold there.
So in a nutshell, an individual is "qualified" by passing the exam and is issued a certificate but it is a company who is technically "Google Certified".
Google Specialist Challenge History
Announced on August 15, 2015, thousands of SEO and digital marketing experts started the rigorous testing for the first ever "Google 5pecialist challenge". To receive certification, advertisers were required to pass comprehensive exams in AdWords, display, video, shopping, and mobile advertising by a September 31, 2015 deadline.
Having passed Google’s "5pecialist challenge" exams, Google issued a sharp looking frame and certificate which they mail off in early October. The process was a lot of fun and our team all completed the exams. If you plan on taking the exams why not add the phone of the challenge?
In 2016 Google changed the name from the "5pecialist Challenge" to the "Specialist Challenge". It started in early August and wrapped up again by September 31st, 2016.
They added some resources (see links below) to help study for exams and added some fun after the challenge events with free google swag, like the "Google Specialist Challenge" photo promotion.
This years 2017 Google Specialist Challenge just recently kicked off and the details are as follows; Every member of your team who passes the AdWords Fundamentals exam and all 5 AdWords exams by Saturday, September 30, 2017, will be eligible to receive a limited-edition framed certificate, reserved for first-rate AdWords Specialists.
The Google Partner Exams
AdWords Fundamentals- The AdWords exams cover basic and advanced advertising concepts, including campaign set up, management, and optimization. To become AdWords certified, you’ll need to pass the AdWords Fundamentals exam and one of the other AdWords exams. You can demonstrate your expertise and help your company earn the Google Partner badge with an AdWords certification.
Search Advertising- This exam covers basic and advanced concepts, including best practices for creating, managing, measuring, and optimizing search ad campaigns across the Search Network.
Display Advertising- This exam covers advanced concepts, including best practices for creating, managing and optimizing Display campaigns.
Video Advertising- This exam covers basic and advanced concepts, including best practices for creating, managing and optimizing video advertising campaigns across YouTube and the web.
Mobile Advertising- This exam covers basic and advanced concepts of mobile advertising, including ad formats, bidding and targeting, and campaign measurement and optimization.
Shopping Advertising- This exam covers basic and advanced concepts, including creating a Merchant Center account and product data feed and creating and managing Shopping campaigns.
Google Specialist Challenge Resources
Mike Hodgdon- SEO & Digital Marketing Expert Consultant