My Experience Taking (And Failing) Classes in the Google Academy for Ads
A few weeks ago, our Principal was speaking to our Online Marketing Specialist about ways to enhance our validity and accreditation as online advertisers. They realized that we as a company could earn a Premier Partner Badge with Google if two individuals had Google Academy for Ads certification. Of course, said Online Marketing Specialist was the first individual with certification, but who was to be second? My shoulder was tapped for the task and I willingly (if not a bit naively) jumped into the wonderful world of Google Ads.
Here’s the thing: I knew pretty much nothing about Google Ads. About the only thing I DID know was that the ads are the ones that show up at the top of the search with the little label that says “Ad”. Not exactly what one would consider outstanding background knowledge considering both my grandmother and the average 7-year-old could have told you the same thing.
I went into it thinking I would learn about what kind of ads to run, what some best practices and tips were, and an explanation of when/why/how Google serves its ads. Think property tour. Instead, I got much, much more. My first “class” was really more akin to lying on your résumé and being started day one of work with no training. I was in a bit over my head, but I was bound and determined to make it work.
The Good Parts
In my opinion, the best part of the Academy for Ads is the fact that Google actually wants you to learn this stuff. They are willing to give you all the knowledge you need to start advertising within 24 hours of completing your courses, a true zero to hero journey. They will teach everything from the optimal set up of your Ad Account to what you need to do to achieve the highest possible Quality Score to explaining what goes on “behind the curtain” when you run a search result and an ad appears. They leave nothing out when explaining what exactly it is they’re looking for, at, and into in terms of advertising with them.
The Bad Parts
However, given Google’s ‘attention to detail’ in teaching, these classes can give you whiplash at times by going from being step by step to high-level concepts in the blink of an eye. One minute we were walking through where to view and add my keywords, the next we’re on to figuring out which of the three options is the best way for Shannon to minimize her costs while maximizing her conversions. I spent a lot of time thinking to myself, “What part of this is necessary to learn and what part is something I’ll just pull up as a guide when actually working?” The problem is that Google was (and is) a bit elusive as to what exactly will be on your exam, so I found myself sometimes worrying in all the wrong places.
The Downright Confusing Parts
I think that in Google’s quest to be thorough, they actually started to give TOO much information too quickly, and without applying that knowledge, it all sort of blurs together. For example, let’s say I don’t want to spend lots of money but I want to see people buying my product online. Should I look at Enhanced Cost Per Click bidding or a Maximize Conversion bid strategy? And if I know what I want to pay for a conversion, should I use Target CPA or Return on Ad Spend? There were a lot of terms that Google familiarized me with on a base level, but when it came time to tell you why to choose one over the other, I was just flipping a coin. I had no way to apply my knowledge or to test myself to make sure my understanding was clear, so, unfortunately, some wires may have gotten crossed during my time in ‘class’.
Passing My Fundamentals Exam
After I had finally made it through all of my training, I decided to give the first exam a shot. I passed on the first try, with 4 points to spare. I definitely did not pass because I was a natural at this stuff, I passed because I used just about every single minute of the two hours I was given and because I had taken extensive notes for myself about, well, everything. I struggled and tried hard to understand their complex and sometimes arbitrary questions. Often I got to questions where I was asked to pick the ‘best’ answer. Sometimes I saw all correct answers, but only one that would be the most optimal in the exam’s eyes. Clearly luck was involved, but there was no small amount of hard work, focus, and problem-solving as well.
And Failing My Search Exam
Given passing my Fundamentals exam on the first go, I was fairly confident going into my Search exam. I failed by 1 point. At first, I was absolutely peeved by barely missing the mark, one more question correct and I could have put this task behind me, we’d have earned our badge, and I’d be free to get back to the parts of my job I truly enjoyed. But, clearly, Google had other plans for me. After my fail, their library started to suggest to me specific areas I may have been weak on (based on my incorrect answers) and gave me targeted help to improve just those areas. THIS part of the Google Ads experience was great! It felt personal and deeply informative, but it did leave me wondering, did other people just inherently know this the first time around, which is why they don’t teach it? Maybe other people are just good guessers on those questions? Either way, I was jazzed. I was finally getting a teaching experience directly tailored to the areas I was weak in.
Passed with a 94 the second time.
A Newfound Respect
My time in the Google Academy for Ads gave me great amounts of respect for our Online Marketing Specialist. There are incredible nuances to effective advertising and it takes a serious amount of knowledge, skill, and ingenuity to do it and do it right. My introduction to this particular world of Google Ads has taught me a lot in terms of effective setup and management, but still probably not enough to single-handedly take over anyone’s PPC campaigns (give me time people, give me time). But, I can guarantee that the copy will be amazing.