A Review of Facebook’s Blueprint Certification — What I Didn’t Like

A well made certification, albeit with some flaws

First and Foremost…

Debugging technical issues on Facebook is so frustrating because they do not offer any real support, just employees who leave cookie cutter responses on the online help forum. Support is an area where Facebook fails miserably at. Hell, if I am having an issue with a client’s Google AdWords account, G Suite, or Google My Business listing I can always contact support and talk to a real human on the phone. Facebook has nothing like that.

Although Facebook seems like a faceless entity they really do have thousands of their employees scouring the web looking at consumer feedback about their products. Your input to them matters, and for all the shit that I give them — they really do care.

Facebook’s Glassdoor reviews: motivated employees make great products!

The Blueprint team at Facebook has designed a very thorough training course for achieving their certification. In fact it was the only resource I used when studying for the exam. It’s easy to dismiss Facebook as some monolith that does not care about its users but I think that’s being a little bit disingenuous. Facebook employees love working at Facebook. There are countless stories online about their employee satisfaction rate and their Glassdoor reviews gives corporate leadership a mind blowing 98% approval rate. That’s more than Google, a lot more. So what we have here is a company of highly paid employees who go into work motivated each day to work on cool projects. Suffice to say the Blueprint course was created by Facebook employees who are passionate about this project and are constantly looking for ways to improve on it. I have actually been approached by Facebook employees thanking me for blog posts I have written about the Blueprint course.

Before I begin with this list I would like to state that overall I have a positive opinion about the Blueprint certification and Facebook’s eLearning modules, but I have several issues with it that I think should be brought to your attention before you begin studying. The following is a short list of minor annoyances and concerns I have with the Blueprint certification and the official Blueprint course.


Constantly using Reach & Frequency campaigns as examples

The Facebook Blueprint eLearning modules is loaded with scenario exercises and examples for the reader to ponder. One reoccurring theme I noticed was the mention of utilizing a campaign bidding objective called “Reach and Frequency”. There is nothing wrong with this objective in and of itself and is a great way for large brands to get a guaranteed number of impressions for their ads in a given amount of time. The problem with it is you have to be invited by a Facebook representative to even use it!
This campaign bidding objective is not available for the average digital marketer, and the Blueprint course fails to even mention this! Can you imagine how infuriating it was to go through their learning modules and hear over and over again “Just select Reach and Frequency on the Buying Type menu on campaign settings” only to learn 99.9% of marketers don’t even get the choice at selecting this option!? 
You could waste your time in the Facebook help forum but you will rarely be given a response that answers your question. For instance, this question in the help forum asks why he is not able to select a Reach and Frequency bidding option for his campaign. The Facebook employees response did not remotely answer his question at all, instead relying on cookie cutter bullshit links. When people complained that the links were irrelevant a second Facebook employee chimes in with an equally bullshit response

Facebook support, unhelpful as usual

So Ripley here lets the OP know that this buying type is not available but does not explain why. This is one of countless examples in the Facebook help section of Facebook employees not explaining how or why this bidding option is not available. It’s almost like they are protecting some forbidden item of lore getting into the hands of the common folk.
After scouring for several hours on why I was not able to select this bidding option I came across a random post on a marketing forum that finally explained why I was not able to enable it. You have to either be invited by Facebook or go through an application process here. NEITHER OF WHICH IS EXPLAINED AT ALL IN FACEBOOK’S BLUEPRINT LEARNING COURSE!

An actual answer! I would buy Alex a beer if I ever met him

The Blueprint team also fails to mention this bidding objective is restricted to only a few countries and that even with oCPM bidding you can expect to shell out at a minimum tens of thousands of dollars. Hence, only available for medium to large advertisers with gigantic budgets. Totally unrealistic for the average digital marketer. 
Throughout the official Facebook Blueprint course and exam you will be given plenty of examples of running campaigns with a bidding objective you can’t even use. And they don’t even mention why. Huge failure on Facebook’s part.

The Digital Badge and YourAcclaim.com

When reading over the Blueprint course overview Facebook mentions that you’ll receive a shiny new “digital badge” to verify your certification. They provided one thumbnail sized image of this badge and refused to mention where it would be hosted, or what your certification page looks like. It would be nice if they linked to a demo page but they didn’t. So throughout the course I kept wondering what the damn thing looked like, no examples could be found anywhere online. When I finally passed I was given a link to a website with my badge called youracclaim.com

What the hell is youracclaim.com?
 -An actual client of mine

Your digital badge is hosted on some 3rd party website, not on a Facebook owned domain. This to me cheapens the value of the badge as people don’t know anything about Your Acclaim. It would be more prestigious if the badge was hosted on Facebook.com. So when I show a client my digital badge I have to mention to them that Your Acclaim is owned by Pearson Vue which administers the Facebook exams. The average response to this is “Huh, alright.”

The barren landing page of your digital badge… Whoop-dee-do

I would like for this badge to be tied to my Facebook account and perhaps even link it to my employer’s Facebook page. If Google’s worthless certifications can be hosted on a Google owned domain and associated to your place of employment then why can’t Facebook do the same?

The Delay of Getting Your Digital Badge

Another minor annoyance is how long it takes Pearson Vue to setup your digital badge and email it to you. This seems like an easy process to automate but for whatever reason takes them several days to accomplish. Imagine your employer shells out the $300 for you to take this exam and you report back that you passed it but can’t provide proof. Worse even, you don’t even know how long it will take for the proof to arrive. At least Google gives you the option of printing out a PDF certification if you pass one of their exams. Employers understand this and they expect a certificate if you become certified. 
After talking to several Blueprint certified marketers I have gotten a range of 48 hours to 1 week until you can receive proof of passing the exam. 
It was slightly awkward coming into work the next morning and explaining that Facebook does not immediately issue your badge upon passing and that you have no idea when you’ll even receive it. The Blueprint course also fails to mention the delay. Another minor annoyance to add to the pile.

Lack of Practice Exams

You are given 3 practice exams with only 20 questions in each of them. One for Core Competencies, Buying Professional and Planning Professional. Years ago when I was taking the Google Analytics exam I could take practice exams with hundreds of questions and they were all very well made and challenging. After taking several of the Google Analytics practice exams I went into the official exam with a strong air of confidence.
The piddly little 20 question exams Facebook offers did not instill confidence in me and going into the exam I was more worried about wasting $300 of my employers money than passing the certification.

Facebook and TV — Who Cares?

For 99.9% of digital marketers out there, they will never work for a TV network or schedule ads to run simultaneously on TV and Facebook. For whatever reason, the Blueprint exam puts a lot of emphasis on this. You’ll go over irrelevant topics like TRP buying and Nielsen BrandEffect several times. 
I can categorically state that I will never utilize TRP buying campaigns ever in my life. These television modules only apply to a small handful of marketers who work for mega corporations with million dollar Facebook budgets. Worse yet, the Blueprint course does not explain how exclusive these campaigns are. You have to be assigned a Facebook account representative, oh and there is no application process, Facebook will “proactively” assign one to you (another thing not explained in the Blueprint course). 
In my opinion this whole module should be split off into its own certification because it is useless to normal marketers. This coupled with the big budget Reach and Frequency campaigns gives me the idea that the Facebook Blueprint team is completely out of touch of what the average digital marketing agency looks like. 
Why should we be forced to study TRPs if we will never get the chance to use them?

Ambiguous Questions on Some eLearning Modules

Hmmmmmm…

example

Go ahead and try to answer this question.
Now read the question text above:

“Ads can’t use creative that is overly sexual, imply nudity, show excessive amounts of skin or cleavage, or focus unnecessarily on body parts”

Fair enough right?
Image 1 is a chick getting railed, so that’s out of the question. 
Image 2 is a half naked chick showing excessive amounts of skin and cleavage. One could even argue that it’s overly sexual, implying nudity and unnecessarily focusing on body parts.
Image 3 is a dude straddling a chick on a beach. The only issue I see with it is its focusing unnecessarily on his abs. 
If you guessed Image 3 is the right answer you’d be wrong! The correct answer is Image 2. Reread the stated guidelines in the picture above and continue scratching your head. 
This question is setup so poorly it’s actually laughable.

The Exam is Pricey

On the official FAQ page the Blueprint team answers the question of exam price. A very important one:

Screenshot taken directly from Facebook

Damn. $150 for the Blueprint Certification? 
Most normal people will look at this and think that you will be spending $150 to take the certification exam, however most people would be wrong. Facebook charges you $150 for EACH exam. So in order to achieve any of their certifications you need to pass 2 exams — Core Competencies and Buying Professional or Planning Professional. 
So in actuality the exam price is $300-$450. Facebook is being intentionally deceptive with their words here.

Certifications are Valid for Only 12 Months

This is a minor nitpick of mine. I am not asking for a perpetual certification but 12 months seems a bit… short lived. Every person who asked how long I’m certified for all thought it was a very brief lifespan. For the amount of money I had to fork over I think it should be good for at least 18 months.

Strong Emphasis on the Facebook SDK for iOS/Android App Marketing

Alongside the useless TV ads you can’t even use, you’ll have to study running ads for marketing mobile applications. This is another example of a learning objective that is completely irrelevant to the average digital marketer. I think it’s good to know that apps require Facebook registration and special configuration with Business Manager and that you’ll need the SDK to run app install campaigns, but its really overkill for the vast majority of digital marketers. 
I work at a SMB with over 5,000 clients (1,400 of which we manage their Social Media) and none of them have apps or run television ads or even have the budget for a Reach and Frequency campaign. Mobile app development is very expensive and is only realistic for a tiny percentage of marketers. Facebook mobile application marketing is so very niche that it needs to be split off into a separate certification in my opinion.

Non-Linear Course Flow

People read from top to bottom. The further you scroll down a page should mean that the closer you are to completion. Below is a screenshot of the Blueprint course modules. You’ll notice under the “courses” section that the links are the same. This is a recurring issue throughout the entire Blueprint course. They serve up the same damn courses all the time.

Everything just repeats!

The course flow is confusing. I often thought I was lost during the learning objectives because I kept seeing the same content repeating itself. Turns out I wasn’t going crazy, the Blueprint team was just being lazy. I get that repetition is a great learning method but examples as shown above are just ridiculous. The Blueprint team really needs to work on the user interface for implementing logical course flow.


Final Thoughts

I stated in the introduction I think Facebook put out a great product with the Blueprint examination. However the stated examples above left me scratching my head as to how a multi-billion dollar international juggernaut could get a lot of the little things wrong. 
I absolutely do think that if you’re employed in a marketing agency or do this freelance then the Blueprint badge is a great trust symbol for you to show off. As of this recording the exam is about 9 months old and its a bit too early to determine how the job market will react to the value of it, but being on the ground floor of something new is very exciting. 
I really do think this is worth your time.