Let’s examine the very different ways in which Google and Overture have chosen to support the third-party professionals who make macro and micro decisions for thousands of advertisers. Third-party professionals, search engine marketers/optimizers, and agencies are critical channels for the pay-per-click (PPC) engines, just as agencies are critical to broadcasters and publishers.
If you’re looking for ways to demonstrate you have search engine marketing (SEM) expertise and you don’t yet have a reputation, all the more reason to consider joining one of the engine’s support programs. Your clients will feel more comfortable knowing you participate in the major search engines’ programs for professionals and agencies.
Google’s Individual Focus
Google Advertising Professionals recognizes many marketers don’t directly buy or manage their search campaigns. Even smaller marketers seek out professionals to manage campaigns. Unlike Overture’s Ambassador Program, Google’s program is more focused on individuals, not agencies or SEM companies.
To become a Google Advertising Professional, you must agree to adhere to rules as part of the sign-up process. You must also have used and maintained an AdWords account in the My Client Center for 90 days and spent $1,000 on accounts during that period. A mere $334 per month is quite a small budget, particularly when several clients are aggregated together. Finally, you must pass an online AdWords knowledge test. There’s a $50 fee for the exam. Don’t’ fail your test more than twice. If you do, you’ll not only have to pay $50 each time but have to wait a month to take the test again. As an aside, at deadline a bug prohibited AdWords account logins from registering if the same login is also used for AdSense. Google’s client services team can intervene to facilitate registration.
Google has also addressed multiple-staff-member certification for agencies. According to Salar Kamangar, a product manager at Google:
We recognize that at some companies, multiple people will manage AdWords accounts through the same corporate My Client Center Account. In these instances, we expect that employees will share a My Client Center account. Each individual represented as a Qualified Google Advertising Professional does need to take the proficiency exam. These individuals can register for the exam using the same My Client Center login ID and a different name.
Google’s My Client Center is essentially the traditional AdWords interface but allows a single login to multiple accounts. Reporting is still at a client/login level. From the My Client Center, you can add new clients to the centralized login with their login and password information. Once clients are added, campaign management is expedited.
Overture: More Service, More Spend
Overture also recently announced changes to its support program for professionals who help buy and manage campaigns. Previously, search engine marketers/optimizers participated in the Overture Ambassador program. Now, agencies are included as the lines blur between interactive agencies and search engine marketers/optimizers.
A key element of Google’s and Overture’s initiatives is the training programs. Overture Ambassador training and certification is geared to companies, not individuals. Google’s training is online only, with no additional human support.
Of course, companies comprise individuals, and both search engines know the value of empowering the individuals working on client accounts with information. As with traditional media, the more the media buyers and marketing staff know about available options, the more likely they are to increase budgets.
Overture requires a much larger agency-spending commitment for the high level of dedicated support that comes with being an Ambassador. If you or your agency manage over $20,000 per month in spending for several clients, Overture’s program may be for you.
The Ambassador program provides your agency with a rep, along with access to information and technology. The agency must commit to having your team stay up to date with what’s new in Overture’s systems.
Google and Overture don’t restrict their training initiatives to these or other internal programs. Both companies are active at industry trade shows, and both are generous Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) supporters. That group also provides training and information about SEM and search engine optimization.
Other engines are also joining the fray by providing training online and off-. Rick Szatkowski, FindWhat’s senior VP/general manager, indicated the FindWhat team is considering rolling out additional support specifically for SEM professionals. Training in best practices, including the ins and outs of each provider’s system, is essential for marketing staff and agency professionals alike.
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