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Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this week’s PPCChat session was an interesting one. Julie sought PPCers views on the new Google Partner requirements, How the Google partner program should look like, Concerns regarding Chrome announcement to stop all third-party cookie tracking and more.


Q1: Are you currently a Google Partner?


Currently yes – but about to not be given new req’s. @Mel66

Yes, and according to the new requirements, I would have to increase client budgets to remain! @MaltzPPC

I am not a Google Partner. @NeptuneMoon

No – and it doesn’t look like i will be anytime soon. @mindswanppc

Yes, Discosloth has been a Google Partner for around 3 years now. @gilgildner

Yes. @gregfinn

Yes we are a partner and actually have a Google team in office every 2 months or so. @KyleShurtz

No. I’m not even sure I’m still google qualified (or whatever it’s called these days). Must be about to lapse… and lapse it will. @stevegibsonppc

Not currently, but I was. I found no value in it and my clients only care about results. @lchasse

The agency I work for is a premier partner. @SEMFlem

Currently a partner and have been since 2014 or 2015. @CJSlattery

We’re Premier Google Partners. @jord_stark

We are currently a Google premier partner. We are discussing how much we want to be. If it aligns with our core values. Yes. If it continues in this black box direction and letting Google apply automating things. Absolutely not. @360vardi

Yes. @joshuadubs

Still, Google Certified in all the things but no longer a partner since I’m in-house now and not linked to a team. So my feelings/frustration are more idealistic than from personal impact. @akaEmmaLouise

Yep. Been one for (what feels like) ever. @SamRuchlewicz

1 That being said, I’m also 100% with @gregfinn in that the changes to the program are completely unacceptable…& (let’s be real) the Google Partner badge doesn’t do much other than sit in the footer + show up in the occasional NB deck. @SamRuchlewicz

Not a partner. I honestly don’t get the big deal. Were people closing deals based on that? I’ve never used that even when I was helping sell at an agency. Large agencies where Google flys out to pitches etc. are already getting high optimization scores. @markpgus

You betcha! @adwordsgirl

Yep, a premier partner (don’t I just feel special. @JonKagan

I am not a Partner. @zmste


Q2: What was your reaction to the new Google Partner requirements announced last week, such as “at least 50% of the eligible users listed in their manager accounts will need to earn Google Ads certifications”?


That makes sense if it was limited to purely agency employees, but it applies to clients and anyone with access to accounts, which is absolutely ridiculous. Clients pay us to be the experts so they don’t have to be! @gilgildner

New req’s are complete BS. Our list of “users” is full of clients. We are not going to ask clients to change their email addresses nor downgrade their access. Also, forget G optimization score – garbage for B2B and most advertisers. @Mel66

I’m fine if it’s just my team in the agency, but including clients? I’m not going to make my client take stupid tests that honestly, no one is actually learning from. @360vardi

Seems a little silly. I get the intention but not necessarily the implementation. @MaltzPPC

The move is another in a long line of Google showing that they do what’s best for Google and they don’t care about agencies or clients. I’m not surprised, but the move is terrible. The user requirement alone is going to cause lots of agencies to lose status. @CJSlattery

I heard about this last year and assumed it was already the rule. Just typical google douchebaggery. Shouldn’t surprise anyone. @stevegibsonppc

It’s a great idea in theory…but then again, so was the Hindenberg. But implementation is what matters & on that front, it’s hot trash For agencies who do the right thing + add their clients to their accounts (openness + transparency), it actually penalizes them. @SamRuchlewicz

Having 50% of your team certifies is a fair requirement. However, clients should still be able to access their accounts at admin level without being lumped into that number. @FindingAmanda

Honestly, I think the exams are unnecessary. Anyone can easily cheat so I don’t see a lot of value in them. With that being said, I can understand why they would make this change. @adwordsgirl

Not a big fan of the 50% of users requirements. Doesn’t make a lot of sense if we operate in client-owned accounts.@jord_stark

It seems like an idea that was hatched by people who don’t actually work in MCC accounts… but then again, lots of decisions seem to get made without the vantage point of actual advertisers of different sizes being considered. @NeptuneMoon

Currently working on a client who has more money than brains – so I was a bit eh…sure let’s increase spend. For the clients that don’t have budget to waste, I thought – “dismissing the recommendations still counts to the 100% mark right?” @mindswanppc

I think requiring a certification is good in theory but like others have said all the answers are online.. the recommendations tab requirement isn’t as bad IMO because 70% is pretty easy to hit but the concept seems unethical. @KyleShurtz

Back to my last point… It makes sense. Honestly, the requirement should probably be 100%. If I had people representing my product, I’d want them to be doing exactly what I want/suggest. By no means do I think that’s best for the CLIENT, but for google? OF COURSE. @markpgus

Not surprised honestly. The relationship between agencies and Google is SOOO awkward. @SEMFlem

That said, I think the execution was lacking (classic case of unintended consequences). They are incentivizing the wrong thing and will end up losing revenue by encouraging compliance over performance. Activity =/= results, clients should own their accounts, etc. @akaEmmaLouise

Vague and confusing. No real details, and they want more people certified for me than I have actual digital staff. @JonKagan

I think it needs refinement and overall shows Google is out of touch of who is really working in accounts. Ignoring mid-market Agencies that are going to be champions for Google Ads. @zmste

Assuming I get their objective, I’m not surprised. I think search marketers are particularly resistant to change, so this was likely intended as an incentive to increase adoption of new features (opt. score req) and broader understanding of the products (% of users) @akaEmmaLouise


Q3: Will you continue as a Google Partner in 2020? Why or why not?


Nope. We’re not going to sacrifice our clients’ best interest for some arbitrary badge from Google. @Mel66

I took and passed the tests. I guess it’s up to Google. @MaltzPPC

I’m not going to put effort into it. Though I worry Google will start to punish MCCs that are not in the partner program. Either by limiting capabilities or something else. @CJSlattery

I guess that is for Google to decide. We are going to keep doing what we feel is best for our clients and if we hit the requirements great if not I guess we won’t be a partner. @KyleShurtz

If it doesn’t cause us to adjust our strategies for clients, sure! The ad spend threshold is still pretty low, and we probably get close to the rec threshold anyway. But we will not negatively change strategies in order to get a free coffee machine each quarter. @gilgildner

Yes & no. Yes, if we’re still badged after this change then great but we’re not going out of our way to keep the badge. I think the changes are, frankly, dumb and I refuse to bend over backwards for something that doesn’t really matter that much. @adwordsgirl

Only if it aligns with our core values. If it’s a choice between a badge and the best interest of our clients… sorry easy choice. @360vardi

We’re a premier partner right now and we still don’t have dedicated reps, we’re stuck with general offshore support. No benefit to being a partner. @Mel66

I think it will depend on Google. We aren’t going to ask clients to get certified or kick them out of their accounts. I guess we’ll see. @jord_stark

Google partner a few years ago was helpful in discussions. Google’s own brand name has fallen a bit with clients, due to the insane number of phone calls & emails they get constantly to anyone attached to an account. There is no longer any benefit, so no @lchasse

As the new rules stand – no. Don’t want to be associated with that. @gregfinn

N/A. but I mean it just depends I suppose. If you’re using it as a selling point can’t you just use “google certified” instead. I trust that clients don’t have any idea what the partner program is. And if they do, they want access to betas and THEIR best practices. @markpgus

I would try to get partner status if it meant I had an experienced Google Rep that was helpful. Badge would be nice but not essential. @FindingAmanda

Honestly, I’m not sure I can see them sticking to this stuff. Once agencies don’t meet their requirements, they won’t be able to come and try to sell us and our clients on increasing ad spend. @SEMFlem

I’m waiting for emails from our vendors saying they will not sacrifice performance in order to satisfy Google Partner requirements. Clients may not know how these changes could affect them should an agency prioritize partner status over the performance of an account @anna_arrow

We’re gonna try, for sure. IMO “partners” was table-stakes for any agency — if it was valuable to prospects before and we’re concerned about changes that will lose us our status, it’s still a valuable designator to prospects. @ferkungamaboobo

Yes, providing I can figure out the staffing requirements. I don’t have a reason to not strive for it. @JonKagan

We will always put the client first. We won’t sacrifice the quality and performance of our work for the Google Partner Program. @JXTGroup


Q4: What do you think a Google Partner Program should look like?


In a perfect world the partner program should be all about retention and results. If clients keep spending or increasing spend they are probably happy. Give us the beta’s and call us your partner. @KyleShurtz

Dedicated account rep for every agency/qualified freelancer would be the most useful perk. As far as membership, I think a higher-level credential/training program might be more useful. @gilgildner

Instill trust in clients that the agency partner is vetted, trustworthy, has their best interests in mind, and is a true differentiator. Right now, it means nothing because clients don’t know or care that it exists. @AndrewCMiller

It should include support from real experts who actually work at Google and not some outsourced firm. @CJSlattery

In a perfect world, we’d have knowledgeable Google reps who were more than third party sales people with a quota. @lindsaycasey

Access to more training, webinars & online events. Updated, helpful tests for employees. BETTER SUPPORT. @gregfinn

High spend thresholds. The spend is silly as low as it is. I am solo and spend a crazy amount. Certifications of whoever is managing the account also makes sense. Clients will fire PPC folks who do not meet expectations, so that part is organically taken care of. @lchasse

It shouldn’t exist. If you do direct mail, you don’t go learn it from the post office… You don’t learn newspaper advertising from the NYT. @stevegibsonppc

I think early access to betas and special programs as well as Google’s data would be a good incentive for a partner program. Give me an edge. @jord_stark

No more direct sales to Partner Program clients. Another issue to be resolved – Google reps going around us to the end client and recommending suboptimal strategies. This creates client confusion at best, FUD at worst. @AndrewCMiller

I remember years ago, I was on a forum where a bunch of SEOs were saying there should be some standard certification in SEO. I thought it was dumb as hell. So why should PPC have a certification? @stevegibsonppc

In my wildest fantasies, the program would be about keeping clients & the results you get for those clients. It’s ~easy~ to get clients, but it’s hard to keep them & it’s even harder to continually keep providing results that make a difference in their business. @adwordsgirl

Honestly… I think it’s what they are doing. It’s in their best interest. In OUR best interest though??? Have reps that are industry vets and understand more than one way of doing things. Provide advice to all approaches. Give us all the industry data we want! @markpgus

I like the old model where it showed which agencies met the high standards, got cited for it, got new biz leads via Google for it, and regularly tested to cut out the hacks of the industry. @JonKagan

Their training program and certification process are actually good IMO. It’s just that the content favors their business growth more than our clients’. Google is just TOO DAMN BLATANT AT INCREASING THEIR REV. BE MORE TACTFUL PLZ @markpgus


Q5: Are any sites you work with being/going to be impacted by CCPA that went into effect in January 2020 (CA’s data protection law, along the lines of GDPR in Europe)?


I’m pretty sure Google Analytics’ latest removal of ISP/Service Provider metrics is a result of CCPA. That affected one of our B2B software clients (they used this to see which enterprise clients visited their site). @gilgildner

None of my clients are directly impacted BUT I’d honestly say that if you aren’t preparing for a CCPA-like data program, you’re gonna be SOL in the next 5 years. @ferkungamaboobo

To my understanding, if you are working with a programmatic vendor or attribution model that heavily rely on third party cookies, you need to have these discussions with them. They will tell you nothing will be different. They are not telling the whole truth. @360vardi

If you’re doing business in CA, you need to be thinking about CCPA. Enforcement is set to start in July 2020. @NeptuneMoon

So far no. But with Brexit happening, I wonder if GDPR becomes null and void on the UK. @JonKagan

We do have sites impacted by CCPA and plenty of clients not taking it seriously. I suspect June will be a very stressful month for us. @ynotweb

Totally. One thing I love about Aimclear is having a CEO that’s also an attorney (shoutout > @lweintraub). We’ve been heading towards 100% GDPR/CCPA compliance but it’s a ton of work. No audience lists floating around in the cloud or Gmail, educating clients, etc @timmhalloran


Q6: How concerned are you about entities like Chrome announcing that they will stop all third party cookie tracking and Safari’s ITP continuing to expand what it blocks?


We saw a huge drop in Safari attribution last year because of ITP 2.0. My answer: it doesn’t matter. I love the idea of it personally. Tracking has been long over-rated as a USP for digital marketing & in the long run, we’ll all go back to branding. @gilgildner

1. Bad for longer sales cycles 2. Bad for B2B 3. Search shouldn’t be AS impacted 4. It will shift focus even more from micro to macro optimization which is already a big lever to win IMO at least. Make good ads, differentiate your offering, basic marketing @markpgus

Excited! The current pendulum swing is towards a more holistic perspective in marketing and not to a channel-specific one. This kind of thing is another reason to talk difficult numbers, like overall multichannel revenue, with clients! @ferkungamaboobo

Truthfully, I think better user privacy protections are in general a good thing. I think when Google is doing anything though it is to protect and further entrench its monopoly power. @CJSlattery

Privacy is something that will continue to have an impact on what we will be able to see/track. Feel like this has just started and we as marketers will find other ways as we need to. In general, I like the idea, because I do believe it is better for everyone. @lchasse

Ironically, if all of this comes to pass, marketing will go back to being more like it was before digital… I personally look forward to a relaxing of the obsession with exactly where every dollar went relative to a conversion. It has never been that simple. @NeptuneMoon

Not worried. I think digital advertising is here to stay. It’s just a matter of who will figure out best around this restriction (Maybe it’s the “safe rooms clean data”). Let’s face it, we have given up our personal information a very long time ago. @360vardi

Let’s be real: Google is only doing this because they have a workaround & think this will deepen their moat. @SamRuchlewicz

I wrote a blog post about this a few weeks ago. I’m not worried. There are a lot of people who are highly motivated to figure this out. @stevegibsonppc

It will force us to focus more on prospecting media than retargeting. It also just ultimately strengthens Google. Which then leaves me asking the question to Google…@JonKagan

If there is anyone that’s happy about these changes, it’s Google as last-click will be least affected. Another win for G! @markpgus

I feel differently now than I would if I were still agency-side. Tbh I think it will encourage more focus on real end results and help with developing more holistic marketing strategies. Measurement will get messier & optimization harder, but our skills should improve. @akaEmmaLouise

I think it will just shift our focus back to search & put more emphasis on value props and creative and less emphasis on remarketing. But you never know… “Life finds a way.” @jord_stark

Tbh, somewhat. I keep thinking tho, something always takes its place. No browser-side cookies? Will switch to server-side. Those get blocked? They’ll make a new type of URL that doesn’t register as decoration, till it does. Then something else will take its place. @timmhalloran

We have surprisingly few clients impacted by restrictions on 3rd party cookies, but we need to step up to advising those who will be. They are being led down a garden path by other vendors. @ynotweb


Q7: Are you actively doing anything in your accounts now to prepare for the “cookiepocolypse” as some are calling it?


Got any ideas that don’t involve selling clients on too much extra?  Otherwise, as another commenter here said: do good marketing and let the rest follow. @MaltzPPC

Talking with clients, especially smaller ones, to influence a shift to a larger branding/wide net ad spend. Focusing on long term strategies rather than short term. And, also, pursuing mid-size and larger accounts rather than small ones. @gilgildner

Not actively doing anything yet. @CJSlattery

We sent an email to our clients and discussed it with them. also had calls with programmatic vendors and 1st party data suppliers. researching data clean rooms. @360vardi

Apart from making sure our clients are aware and that we try to use more of their 1st party data – nothing more than that really. @mindswanppc

We have surprisingly few clients impacted by restrictions on 3rd party cookies, but we need to step up to advising those who will be. They are being led down a garden path by other vendors. @ynotweb

Expanding value outside of expertise in engine. Understanding of funnels/journeys. Business plans for AOV, LTV, ACOS that holistic; SEO, content, social, email, ad creative. Right now though, being proactive in solutions as others have said. @zmste

Writing a lot of POV’s on it…@JonKagan

I’ve been looking into stop-gaps like this (not associated w/ them) – I’m still learning because there’s so many what-ifs, still. @timmhalloran


Q8: Where do you think the privacy vs. advertising data struggle will ultimately settle out?


In the US, I think CCPA’s informed-opt-out method is probably going to be the main path, so having that data inventory is going to be a necessary set of tasks. I’m personally intrigued by No-Analytics digital marketing and how that can work within agencies. @ferkungamaboobo

Eventually, we will be able to figure out how to keep advertising targeted, without tying it to specific identities. Honestly, though there has ALWAYS been room to improve targeting. I still get display ads targeted to Houston. I haven’t been there for like 5 years. @gilgildner

Privacy will win. I really don’t understand the “relevant ads are better than non-relevant ads” argument by some in the industry. It’s BS and no one WANTS to trade privacy for better ads lol… That being said… privacy is a fraud. Nothing is private. @markpgus

I think most of the web will shift from an advertising-driven model to a micro-transaction model that is seamless and low cost because people will realize the ad model is broken for users (privacy, experience, etc) and publishers. @CJSLattery

There’s going to be a lot more emphasis on first-party data. Also increase in content targeting vs. audience. At some point, someone will come up with tools that scrub user information from multiple channels and able to connect the dots. @360vardi

Marketers have always had to learn and grow. Remember when catalogs were the big thing? Privacy is a good thing for society and we will use whatever other tools we have available to us to reach customers. @lchasse

Oh boy. 1st, minority report with full facial recognition, CC/Bank trans, GPS. Everything you do is data to be used. 2nd, personal data collection becomes a new SSN. Closely protected and controlled by the person. Getting paid for advertisers to use your data. @zmste

I think domestically it will really vary at the state level. I could see CCPA laws spread to NY, IL, MA, and NH (gotta love libertarian views on privacy). But I am skeptical on a nationwide impact. That being said, I am totally guessing on that. @JonKagan

Hopefully, it will end in a return to creative marketing and “big ideas” that made advertising what it is today. I fear the measurability of digital has allowed us to get away with campaigns that fall well below our potential. Curbing that might be just what we need? @akaEmmaLouise

Hmmmm…need time to think about that one. Maybe when I publish the roundup. @mindswanppc

As a Californian and a consumer, and even as an advertiser advocate, I hope CCPA-like privacy protections spread. I believe it helps small businesses in the end. @ynotweb


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