Updated March 2019

Here at Bootcamp Media, we understand the benefits of gaining individual Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords) qualifications, and our SEO staff have undertaken several of these exams. In this post we’ll share our experiences and show you what to expect when you take the Google Ads exams yourself. We have updated the post to reflect the most recent changes in the certification process.

What is the Google Ads certification?

The Google Ads certification programme is a globally recognised certificate which showcases a person’s knowledge and proficiency in Google Ads (AdWords) advertising. It covers the fundamental aspects of online advertising and campaign management.

Is it worth it? – Benefits of getting certified

Being certified by Google themselves is a great way to prove your Pay Per Click skills, and it will come in very useful regardless of your role – whether you work for a PPC agency, inhouse, or as a freelance SEO marketer.

Your individual qualification will enhance your CV and it can be used as a way of marketing your skills as an account manager to prospective employers or clients. In our view, if you are looking for a job in digital marketing, this will certainly help you more than any other qualification.

Undertaking Google Ads certification is also a great opportunity to test your skills, even if you are a seasoned PPC advertiser. Our very own SEO manager, Tom has been working with AdWords for a number of years. SEO team member Marie has recently passed Google Ads Fundamentals and the Google Ads Video Certification, and is now working towards qualifying in Search, Display, Mobile and Shopping qualifications.

And the really good news is that each exam, as well as the training, is now completely FREE – so there really is nothing to lose.

Getting Started

Okay, so firstly you have to start by signing up your company to join Google Partners. Get started here: https://www.google.com/partners/

Next, you will need to sign up to Google Academy For Ads and set up a personal profile there. You will need an existing personal Google account for this.

As part of the Academy For Ads sign-up process, you should link your email address with your company’s Google Partners profile. To do this, you will first need to check the “Yes” option underneath the statement: “Share my Academy for Ads account information with my company”. Once your profile set-up is complete, you will then need to click on “More” from the dashboard, then select “My Profile” and click on the “Add your company email” link.

Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to get on with studying for the exams.

Preparing for the exams

How to prepare for your exams using the exam study guides

In order to obtain your certification you’ll have to pass two initial exams: the Fundamentals exam, plus one advanced exam. You will have a choice of five advanced exams: Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising and Shopping Advertising.

The best way to prepare is by working through the latest Google Academy For Ads study guides. These are available from your Academy For Ads dashboard once you are signed in. You will have free access to these study guides and the latest product training. These comprehensive materials cover a variety of topics and will provide you with all the information you need to know about the various Google Ads programmes, enabling you to become a Google Ads professional over time.

Google also provides a number of test questions related to the study material, which can help for getting used to and understanding the style and pattern of the tests.

Before you are able to move on to the advanced exams, you will first need to pass the Fundamentals assessment exam – this is compulsory.

The Fundamentals exam

The Fundamentals exam covers the basic foundations and some intermediate aspects of Google Ads and online advertising.

You will be required to study a broad range of topics covering the benefits of online advertising with Google Ads, and best practices for managing and optimising campaigns.

Once you have worked through the study guides, you will need to complete a 90 minute (1.5 hrs) exam. This is a multiple choice test with 65 questions. To pass this exam, you will need to achieve a score of 80% or above.

The modules covered in this exam are:

Module 1: Understanding the value of online advertising

  • Benefits of online advertising and Google Ads
  • Grow your business with Google Ads
  • Where your ads can appear
  • How costs are calculated in Google Ads
  • About Quality Score

Module 2: Setting up an Adwords campaign

  • About Google Ads campaign types
  • How ad groups work
  • About keywords
  • About campaign budgets
  • Write successful text ads
  • About Keyword Planner
  • Choosing a campaign type

Module 3: Measuring and optimising performance

  • About conversion tracking
  • Account, campaign and ad group performance
  • Evaluating ad performance on the Search Network
  • Optimising your campaign for online sales
  • Measure your results

See the Google Ads Fundamentals assessment study guide.

The Advanced Exam

When you have completed the Fundamentals exam you will be required to take a minimum of one advanced exam from a choice of five to attain Google Partner status.

However, it is well worth considering taking as many of these advanced assessments as you are able, as passing these will allow you to demonstrate specialised knowledge within Google Ads which can be very helpful you if you offer particular services in addition to basic account management.

It is advisable to begin with the advanced assessment which best fits the nature of your business – for example, if you have a lot of e-commerce clients, then consider taking the Shopping Advertising assessment first.

Each of the following Google Ads certification assessments are available in up to 21 languages.

Search Advertising

Before taking this assessment, Google recommends that you have on-the-job experience running at least a few search ad campaigns. It is ideal for agencies or online marketing professionals specialising in search advertising campaign management.

There are 100 multiple choice questions, and you will have 120 minutes (2 hrs) to complete the assessment. You will need to achieve a score of 80% or higher for a pass.

The assessment covers basic and advanced concepts for creating, managing, measuring and optimising search ad campaigns across the Search Network.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Search advertising trends
  • Search ad campaign creation and management
  • How to measure ad performance and optimise campaigns

See the Search Advertising assessment study guide.

Display Advertising

Before taking this assessment, Google recommends that you have on-the-job experience running at least a few display ad campaigns. It is ideal for agencies or online marketing professionals specialising in display advertising campaign management.

There are 100 multiple choice questions, and you will have 120 minutes (2 hrs) to complete the assessment. You will need to achieve a score of 80% or higher for a pass.

The Display Advertising exam covers basic and advanced concepts for creating, managing, measuring and optimising display ad campaigns across the Display Network.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • How ads on the Display Network can help your clients to meet performance and branding goals
  • Display ad campaign creation and management
  • Display ad formats
  • How to reach different groups of people through specialised targeting
  • How to measure ad performance and optimise campaigns

See the Display Advertising assessment study guide.

Mobile Advertising

Before taking this assessment, Google recommends that you have on-the-job experience running mobile ad campaigns. It is ideal for agencies or online marketing professionals specialising in mobile advertising campaign management.

There are 70 multiple choice questions, and you will have 90 minutes (1.5 hrs) to complete the assessment. You will need to achieve a score of 80% or higher for a pass.

The Mobile Advertising assessment covers basic and advanced concepts, including: mobile fundamentals, bidding and targeting strategies, mobile ads, and measurement solutions.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Mobile consumers and how your app or mobile site can help them make decisions
  • Mobile-specific bidding and targeting strategies
  • Mobile ad formats
  • How to measure ad performance and conversions

See the Mobile Advertising assessment study guide.

Video Advertising

Before taking this assessment, Google recommends that you have on-the-job experience running video ad campaigns. It is ideal for agencies or online marketing professionals specialising in video advertising campaign management.

There are 74 multiple choice questions, and you will have 90 minutes (1.5 hrs) to complete the assessment. You will need to achieve a score of 80% or higher for a pass.

The Video Advertising assessment covers basic and advanced concepts for creating, managing, measuring and optimising video advertising campaigns across YouTube and the web.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • How video ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network can help your clients meet their advertising goals
  • Video advertising campaign creation and management
  • Video ad formats
  • How to measure ad performance and optimise campaigns

See the Video Advertising assessment study guide.

Shopping Advertising

Before taking this assessment, Google recommends that you have on-the-job experience running a Shopping campaign. It is ideal for agencies or online marketing professionals specialising in Merchant Centre and Shopping campaign management.

There are 63 multiple choice questions, and you will have 90 minutes (1.5 hrs) to complete the assessment. You will need to achieve a score of 80% or higher for a pass.

The Shopping Advertising exam covers basic and advanced concepts, including: creating a Merchant Centre account and product data feed, and creating and managing Shopping campaigns.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Merchant Centre account creation and management
  • Product data feed submission and optimisation
  • Creating and managing Shopping campaigns in Google Ads
  • How Shopping ads work
  • Shopping campaign bidding and optimisation

See the Shopping Advertising assessment study guide.

Be warned – it ain’t easy!

The questions are all multiple choice but you will only have a limited amount of time to answer them. Cheating is impossible due to the tight restrictions on time limit.

Once you begin you can’t pause the timer, so it is highly advisable to take the exam in a location where you can be sure you won’t be disturbed.

Unfortunately, if your computer shuts down, or your browser closes, the clock keeps ticking and you will not be able to regain the time you have lost.

What if I fail?

If you fail the test it’s not a problem, as you can retake the assessment again after just one day. However, to avoid wasting a great deal of time, we advise that you make full use of the study guides to prepare yourself thoroughly.

After the Exam

In order to stay certified you will need to re-sit the exams annually, due to the ever-changing nature of the Google Ads platform.

In our opinion, this is well worth doing, as maintaining your Google Partner status and up-to-date knowledge of all things Google Ads can bring you and your company many valuable benefits, not least enhanced reputation in the marketplace, an edge over competitors, and increased earnings potential.