January 20, 2013
Google AdWords Certification – Is it worth it? Benefits? Costs?
Question. I am a student at your wednesday night class in Stanford. I have a doubt regarding how much it really is worth certifying myself in Google Adwords. Is it valuable to take the exam and get the certificate? Does it have any intellectual value whatsoever? How about corporate value?
That’s a great question. You can find the Official Google AdWords Certification program here, and a useful study guide, here. I have some reservations about the program, however, even though I do think it has some very important benefits from some individuals and companies.
Reservations about the Official Google AdWords Certification Program – Is it Worth It?
First, my reservations. Google makes money off of AdWords, so its official AdWords Certification program has to be understood in that light. It is really a sales program designed to teach people how to use AdWords, yes, but also to indoctrinate people on AdWords as the be-all and end-all of online marketing efforts. Having worked with vendors who were official participants, I can say that they do tend to steer you towards AdWords as solution even when other tools (e.g., free SEO, social media, press efforts, etc.) might be more cost effective. Secondly, AdWords has a very dark underside to it as a program, in that it can steer even a good marketers towards over-advertising and poorly setting up campaigns, groups, and keywords. Google makes its money off of clicks, whereas you as a vendor make your money off of conversions and those are not at all the same thing.
Now, to be fair, the AdWords information and help files do explain many of these facets but they are not front and center to the program. I am not personally certified in AdWords, either, although I have deployed campaigns ranging from a few hundred dollars per month to many thousands; I have also counseled many, many people who have been burned by AdWords gotchas, as I explain in my free AdWords tutorial / gotchas webinar.
So, if you approach the program with the mindset as if you were taking the official GM training on how to sell a Chevy, or the official Geico training on how to sell Geico insurance, then I think it is actually a very good, and informative program. If you approach it naively as if it is an objective program, then I think you are setting yourself up to be misled.
Benefits (and costs) of the Official Google AdWords Certification Program – Is it Worth it?
Here are some of the benefits -
- Learning – obviously, the learning experience is worthwhile, and you are getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth.
- Google Endorsement – by being officially certified as an individual or a company, you are able to get an implicit endorsement by Google, which will certainly help your personal or company brand. Again, this is very much like being an official Geico agent, or official Chevy dealer.
- Sales Leads – Google has an official program called Google Engage. This coupled with AdWords certification leverages Google as a potential source of leads (example: here).
Be aware that there are other free learning resources on AdWords, but those (again) tend to be on the salesy side. Some are free (example, Learn with Google Webinars, and some are paid (example, Google AdWords Seminars for Success).
For most people, I think that the learning itself and the implicit endorsement by Google are indeed very valuable. So if you think that AdWords will be a big part of your marketing, then I would indeed recommend taking the course. As for the cost of the AdWords Certification Program, it’s effectively $100 as you have to take the basic and intermediate exam (each $50), but those costs of course might go up over time.
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