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The IAB Digital Media Sales Certification: One Year Later

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One year ago, those first applicants buckled down to study up on media topics, from CPCs to DSPs, in order to take the Digital Media Sales Certification exam.  The Founding Commission, charter companies and IAB staff had spent months working to develop a credential that embodied credibility and integrity.  And let me tell you, it was not an easy task. We were working in uncharted territory.  And by any measureable standard the IAB Certification program has been a success.

A Reason To Party
On Tuesday night, July 25, 2013, IAB was proud to host a celebration in recognition of the first class of Certification holders and all those who helped create and support IAB Digital Media Sales Certification. 

Here’s what we have accomplished in just one year:

  • More than 1,200 have registered for the program
  • Companies like AOL, Collective and IDG have committed to certifying their entire sales teams
  • A number of companies (24/7 Media, Trial Retail Media and About.com) have made Certification part of their hiring and training processes
  • Certification holders and their managers have given us tremendous positive feedback about the reception of the program from the marketplace
  • Every day sales professionals from leading companies across the country are signing up to take the exam

Peter_DSC4575_sm.jpgDuring the event, exclusive guests networked at Lavo in New York City. Many Certification holders and sales executives shared their experiences about how colleagues and clients have responded to Certification.

Matthew White, National Digital Director at Time Inc.’s My Recipes was on the committee that helped create the exam and is now a Certification holder. “This is a great training tool for companies.  It opens up your perspective to parts of the industry outside of your own experience.  This makes for a better understanding of your competition, the products they may be selling and how.”




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Randall Rothenberg, IAB President and CEO, told the crowd, that the Certification program came from his earliest meetings with IAB member companies, seven years ago. “The thing that came up over and over again from companies big and small was, ‘We need training!’  We learned after years of work, that the best way to scale training in a new industry was not to create the course work yourself.  It is to codify industry knowledge within your network, turn it into a standardized test, and get others to teach that test around the world.” 

Randall went on to say, “The program has exceeded our wildest expectations.  With big companies signing on and making it a requirement it’s taking on a life of its own.”

One of the most frequent questions we heard in the beginning was, “Why do sales people even need certification?”  We created the program because digital advertising buyers and sellers needed a benchmark to ensure that sales people had the basic knowledge required to sell new media programs.  The ecosystem changes so quickly, clients now have a deeper level of trust that the people they talk to understand the industry and comprehend their needs. No one’s asking “why” any longer.

 “With 1,000 people expected toLeslie_DSC4660_sm.jpg pass the test by the end of 2012, we are in a position to make the industry stronger.” said Scott Schiller, EVP of Advertising Sales at NBC Universal and Chairman of IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Commission.  “A few years ago one of the biggest complaints about the industry was the lack of perceived professionalism that digital sellers had compared to traditional media experts. (With Certification) the industry has come a long way, and the IAB is credited to helping with that.  I encourage all of you who have not taken the test to encourage your company to participate.”

Marta Martinez, AOL’s Head of Sales Strategy & Operations, addressed  the room on the company’s commitment to customer service, innovation and knowledge as well as “raising the bar on the internet,” helping clients fully leverage the medium as a marketing channel.  “At AOL there is a lot of effort in bringing balance between the premium advertising and programmatic sides of the house.  This is the reason why we requested that all of the front facing-sales people in the U.S. will be certified this year.  When we announced the program internally there was huge demand.  We are already seeing a lot of value from the program.  We are all starting to speak the same language and we are no longer in the business of translation with our clients.”


July 10, 2013 - IAB Certification DayPictureCertHolders_DSC4578_Sm.jpg
In two weeks, on July 10, 2013, will officially be declared IAB Certification Day.  It’s a day for certificants and friends of the program to demonstrate their support and pride for the credentials, by posting their badge online via social media.  We ask everyone to use the hash tag #iabcertday, so that IAB can showcase everyone who participates.  For information about how to participate or to follow the conversation on Certification Day go to: iab.net/certday

In just one year digital ad buyers, human resources professionals and sales executives have embraced the credential, integrating it into their business practice.  By no means are we done defining and refining the program, but the milestones of 2012-2013 are sure indicators that Digital Media Sales Certification is here to stay.

“The industry needs to continue to embrace quality in sales and product to gain better trust with clients.” said Certification holder and SVP of Sales at pulsepoint, John Ruvolo. “Certification is a great step in the right direction to set a benchmark of trust for the industry.”


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