Hire Wire May 16 2012

Get Certified in Media Sales

By Damian Ghigliotty

Do you understand the nuances between digital media, TV, radio and print? Can you calculate media mathematics and define key digital ad tools?

These are the kinds of questions people who sell digital ads may be required to answer, if the Interactive Advertising Bureau and some of its key members have a say.

The IAB introduced its "Digital Media Sales Certification" exam for salespeople with two to five years experience in the online media industry. "Just as with certificates in other fields, this exam will give current job holders and job seekers a score card to prove their understanding of the most important concepts, guidelines and practices in digital advertising," said Michael Theodore, vice president of member services at IAB.

The exam takes two hours to complete and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions broken into four sections covering the "Digital Advertising Ecosystem," "Selling Digital Media," "Managing Digital Advertising Campaigns," and "Analyzing Campaign Performance." No formal coursework is required, said Theodore.

"Candidates should have a strong command of current industry issues, players, and operations, as well as a broad understanding of major digital platforms, such as mobile, social and display advertising," he said.

Among IAB's more than 500 member companies in the media and technology industries, 25 of them, including Google, Condé Nast, Time Inc., AOL and NBCUniversal, contributed to the exam's development process, which began in November.

"Part of IAB's mandate to make our industry stronger and raise the level of professionalism," said Scott Schiller, 53, executive vice president of digital media sales at NBCU's entertainment & digital networks and integrated media division. Schiller played an integral role in the exam's development as the chair of IAB's "Digital Media Sales Certification" Founders Commission.

The exam isn't a requirement to get or hold a job in digital ad sales, said Theodore. Instead, it serves as a "badge for their careers," he said.

"When I hire someone I look at what traits they have that make them qualified to sell advertising and this certification would mean another stripe on their resume," said Schiller. "For the early adaptors it will signal their commitment to their jobs and as a result open doors."

The exam costs $350 for IAB members and $450 for non-members. Candidates need at least two years of digital ad sales experience or a degree in advertising or integrated marketing to qualify for the exam.

The "Digital Media Sales Certification" exam will be administered by the U.K. educational company Pearson. Interested candidates can apply for on IAB's website. The first quarterly set of exams is scheduled to start Monday, June 11, and will be held at Pearson's test centers around the world.

After July, there will be three additional windows to take the exam in September, December and March of 2013. Further test dates have not yet been set.

Those who fail may retake it an additional two times. After a third failure, that candidate will be required to sit out two examination cycles, approximately six months, before he or she can reapply.

Theodore said that IAB is considering creating a separate exam for ad buyers on both the agency and the client side.

IAB's member companies are responsible for 86% of online advertising sold in the U.S.

Write to Damian Ghigliotty at Damian.Ghigliotty@dowjones.com

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