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What are the Top 5 Canadian Cities with the Most Google Partners?

Google has gone through a fair amount of transformation in shaping what is now called the Google Partners Program. Before we dig in and discuss with Canadian cities have the most Google Partners, let’s take a look at how the Google Partners program got its start!

In 2011, Google launched Google Engage for Agencies. This program was designed to help web design agencies, webmasters, and the early adopters of digital marketing with training, incentive programs, client onboarding assistance and more. In late 2011, Google Engage began offering their Google Adwords Certification material for budding digital marketing talent. This training program gave anyone the opportunity to use Google’s web-based platform to learn, study, and take online exams so you could showcase your strengths for a variety of Google Products.

The training certification, alongside a threshold of managed spend, led the way to the creation of the Google Partners program.

So … which Canadian cities have the most Google Partners?

Google Partners Program Timeline (2011 – Present):


Google Engage (2011)


Google Adwords Certifications Launch (2011)


Google Adwords Certified Individual (2012 – Present)


Google Partner Program (2013 – Present)


Google SMB Premier Partner (2013 – 2016)


Google Premier Partner (2016 – Present)


 

Google Rebrands the Engage Program

When Google rebranded the Engage program to the Google Partner program in 2013, Adster Creative was 1 of 10 ‘Engage Partners’ in Canada to be featured in an international video, print and web promoted series called Google Partner Stories. Back in 2013, Adster became the only Featured Google Partner in Alberta … pretty sweet huh? Well, more on that in a sec …

It’s not as ‘hip’ to be a Google Partner today as it was 5 years ago. Canada is now inundated with print, graphic design and traditional agencies sailing the ‘Google Partner’ flag. It’s now a simple matter of having a single certified individual on your team that has mastered the art of Google’s search advertising, while also managing an AdWords total spend (MCC) of at least $10,000 USD every 90 days. The crazy part is, you could basically have one client spending that amount, and you’d meet the threshold. Google will also “audit” your MCC to ensure you’re abiding by their best practices, and not just putting the accounts on auto-pilot – but this is not done by a human, there’s a script that does most of the heavy lifting for them.

Google SMB Program becomes Google Premier Partner

The Google SMB Premier Partner program existed from 2013-2016 and featured some of Canada’s largest advertisers like ReachLocal, Rogers Outrank (which is now closed and re-branded as Yodle), and Yellow Pages. The primary criteria at this time were based on their telesales abilities, sales velocity, massive managed ad spends (think 10 million+), and their desire to grow. This program had roughly 10 corporations in Canada listed, and despite Google’s best efforts at onboarding as many SMB’s in Canada as possible, the program was met with tons of backlash due to the ‘Partner’s’ use of deceptive sales tactics, and their inability to deliver results.

This program was shut down, and replaced with the Google Premier Partner program, which launched in June of 2016.

How Do You Become a Google Premier Partner?

  1. Create a Google Partners company profile
  2. Have two affiliated individuals certified in Adwords
  3. *Meet a higher spend requirement than a Google Partner
  4. **Meet the performance requirements

*The managed revenue thresholds dropped substantially from the SMB Premier Program to the revamped Google Premier program, though there’s some speculation as to what the higher spend requirement might be. I may get in hot water for spilling the beans; however, for Canadian agencies, it’s just over $1,000,000 USD in Adwords managed spend per year. Being a Premier Partner comes along with some special perks, like more advanced sales training, higher end Google Support staff, and the ability to attend additional training … although, you don’t necessarily need to be a Premier partner to get these perks!

**In my opinion (disclaimer – we’re not a Google Premier Partner as we don’t meet the revenue thresholds quite yet), basing the Premier status solely off of total managed spend is a poor metric, as you could have one giant account that spends $1,000,000 per year, whereas another agency doing the same revenue numbers could be managing 150 accounts that have a smaller spend.

  • For example; an agency managing 150 accounts, vs. 2-5 accounts will have far more hands-on experience, with dozens/hundreds of clients in a multitude of industries. Also, more accounts require an agency to run at higher efficiencies, become innovative, and deploy automation and scripts to keep overhead down for the agency, managment fees down for their clients and still provide a high level of service and results. In the real world, there’s not a lot of fat to trim in an account that only spends $1000/mth so you’ll need to have a team of Adwords Experts and wicked internal processes to generate results while still remaining profitable as an agency.

Thanks for the History Lesson! Now, What are the Top 5 Canadian Cities with the most Google Partners?

Toronto (Population: 4,753,120) = 150 Google Partners


Montreal (Population: 3,616,615) = 87 Google Partners


Vancouver (Population: 1,953,252) = 55 Google Partners


Edmonton (Population: 932,546) = 35 Google Partners


Calgary (Population: 988,079) =  28 Google Partners


Ottawa (Population: 860,928) =  22 Google Partners (and a 6th for good measure!)


Population sources courtesy of: http://www.businessreviewcanada.ca/top10/1003/Canadas-Top-10-Most-Populous-Cities

Based on the above figures, the following applies:

  • Toronto = 1 partner agency for every 31,786 people
  • Montreal = 1 partner agency for every 41,570 people
  • Vancouver = 1 partner agency for every 35,513 people
  • Edmonton = 1 partner agency for every 26,644 people
  • Calgary = 1 partner agency for every 35,288 people
  • Ottawa= 1 partner agency for every 39,133 people

Based on the above figures (which isn’t a surprise) Edmonton Alberta has the most Google Partners per capita in all of Canada, at 1 Google Partner agency for every 24,644 people; maybe Alberta really is the next Silicon Valley. Another interesting stat would be the size of the Google Partner agency; for example, Edmonton has a ton of independent or less than 5 person teams, compared to larger cities (like Toronto and Montreal) with average team sizes being 15+.

What is it about Alberta that yields so many marketing and advertising agencies? It’s not just advertising companies, it’s tech startups, professional services, oil and gas … it’s everything! Alberta is known as the small business capital of Canada (and maybe even North America), is it because of the low corporate tax rates? Is it because of the massive amount of government funding and grants through AITF, SR&ED and others?

Furthermore, why are some of the world’s best known digital marketing gurus’ and advocates of digital marketing (Darren Shaw, Dana DiTomaso, David Forster) based in Edmonton? Maybe it’s something in the water … or maybe people really, really love the Oilers (we’re from Saskatchewan, so GO RIDERS!).

Let me know in the comments below!


  • Peter Jaffray (CD, MBA)

    Great research! I never looked at it that way before.