How to Pass the AdWords Advanced Display Exam & Earn Google Partner Status

February 20, 2019

We’ve already delved into surviving the AdWords Advanced Search exam, thanks to Margot da Cunha’s post last December, so now let’s take a look at the other advanced exam, Advanced Display. 

Display seems to be a bit of a great unknown, the dividing line between the hardcore search geeks and the creative, right-brained people who cringe at all the spreadsheets and analysis that accompany search. It bears mentioning here that 95 percent of people’s online time is spent consuming content, so learning about display (and video) can be a nice upsell to your clients, or it could be a career path you carve for yourself. Here’s an interesting fact: YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine – and it’s a major component of the Advanced Display exam.

Let’s assume you’ve already cruised through the fundamentals exam and get right to some Advanced Display overview and exam preparation steps. I’ll close with some information on what passing the exam means as it relates to actually becoming a Google Partner (hint: you have to do more than just pass the exams).

Related: 6 Ways to Learn AdWords Without Getting Certified

Advanced Display Exam Overview

Here’s the skinny on the display exam and what you must score to pass it:

  • 120 minutes
  • 90 questions
  • 70% passing score
  • 4 lessons

Now, one of the four lessons mentioned above is actually the PDF download that you study with, so there are really only three sections. And, yes, you only need to score a 70 percent to pass. You might infer it’s possibly a very challenging test, or one that’s supremely easy to pass. I’d say it’s a bit of both: You do need to study and understand the material, especially if this is brand-new territory for you, but passing it isn’t going to break your brain. We’re in PPC, folks—this isn’t the bar exam or medical boards.

Here’s the Google study area for Advanced Display, and you’ll notice the guide I mentioned:

AdWords Advanced Display Exam

Of the three main focus areas from above, and I’d say the split for the exam is about 45 percent Google Display Network, 45 percent YouTube, and 10 percent mobile devices.

The exam itself is very rule- and capabilities-oriented as opposed to calculations and analysis. By that I mean you spend most of your study time learning what all AdWords and YouTube can do—and it’s a lot.

For example, if you’ve ever wondered how all those text ads show up in your Gmail, or how you’re forced to watch an advertisement with the little “You can close this ad in ____ seconds” notices before you watch your content, or how you start noticing stalker ads from sites you’ve visited, you’ll learn all that in the Advanced Display material.

You’ll also learn the various specifications for ad sizes, how to create video and display ads with Google’s tools, how to measure performance, and all the necessary things you’d need to know to be considered worthy of Google Partner status.

How I Passed the AdWords Advanced Display Exam

When you dive into the study material that Google has provided, you’ll notice an abundance of links, links, and more links to even more material. Soon you find yourself so deep in Google pages you start to wonder, Am I the first person who’s ever visited this page?

Instead of taking that route, I chose a bit more strategic path. These are the exact steps I took to pass the exam:

1. Invested in iPassExam’s $98 package for access to all their exams: fundamentals, advanced search, and advanced display. I justified this expense by telling myself that a.) the exam is free and b.) I don’t want to have to retake it, so I’m doing everything I can to avoid that.

2. Focused on the iPass question bank instead of reading through all the Google material. The bank has 313 questions from the exam, and it even provides explanations and links to more information.

Here’s a sample question from iPass with the link to the source below it:

advanced display exam example question

3. Took the iPass practice exam. This revealed my weak areas, which allowed me to then dive into the material and absorb it. At this point I did look at Google’s material and even created my own “study book,” which was nothing more than about 40 pages of copied-and-pasted material from Google into a Word document (not available in book stores).

4. Read back through my mini study guide, went back through the iPass question bank, and retook the practice exam. At this point I’d seen the practice questions four times and knew what the gotcha questions were (yes, there’s a bit of misdirection in the exam that’s meant to confuse you).

5. Crushed the actual exam. I studied too much, and that was mostly fear-driven. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine on the exam.

Advanced Display Exam: The Key Takeaways

You could likely pore through all of the free information that Google provides and still pass the exam. I’d also add that iPass isn’t perfect because Google is constantly changing the exams and where they keep their information, and iPass is in catch-up mode all the time. Even in Google’s own material you might see outdated information occasionally, such as reference to the display ad builder even though it’s now called ad gallery.

The final analysis of the exam is that it’s not only a test of your knowledge, but also a test of your ability to take tests. It’s for this reason, I believe, Google has layered on additional requirements to become a Google Partner. Not only must you pass the exam, you also must meet the following criteria:

A.) Follow best practices, which is vaguely defined as “add exact match keywords,” “add text ads to each ad group,” and “raise your position and lower costs – improve quality score.” How Google determines this is beyond me, and I imagine they either manually review your accounts or use an automated checker.

B.) You must be managing at least $10K in spend over a 90-day period. Google will look at your MCC account (it’s preferred that you use an MCC but not a requirement) to review this. This is what my Partner page looks like:

advanced display exam study guide

If you’re ready to get started, use the resources below to learn more about the exams and Google Partner status.

AdWords Advanced Display Exam Resources

Information from Google about the exams

Achieve partner status as a company

Join as an individual

Let me know if you have any questions about passing the AdWords exam or becoming a Google Partner. Both experiences are fresh in my mind now, but I can’t guarantee that will be the case a month from now.

Brad McMillen

Brad McMillen

Brad McMillen is a digital marketing consultant and freelance copywriter at Mac Strat in Indianapolis, Indiana. He manages pay-per-click campaigns, performs SEO audits, writes web content, and crafts direct-response copy. Connect with Brad on LinkedIn.

Sign up to get our top tips and tricks weekly!