The Air Up Here

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“It’s like reflecting on oxygen. You never consciously think about it, but you know it’s always right there.”

iab-job-task.pngThis is how one digital media sales exec described the seemingly simple task of mapping and documenting all the knowledge, skills, and capabilities that he uses in the daily doing of his job. Eight of his counterparts from other digital media companies nodded in vigorous agreement, realizing after just a few moments together how challenging it would be to pinpoint exactly what it is they do and know that makes them successful at their jobs.

The occasion for this meta-reflection was a Job / Task Analysis workshop, held at the IAB Ad Lab in December. The 2.5 day engagement was the first in a series of four workshops established to develop a new industry-wide certification exam for digital media sales professionals. The certification exam, due to go live in late summer, will establish minimum standards identifying what digital media salespeople ought to know in order to do their jobs effectively. This is an ambitious, but necessary, endeavor given the constant knowledge gaps created by the dynamic nature of digital marketing. Created by subject matter experts in our industry, facilitated by a professional certification development company, and sponsored by the IAB, the program will impartially guide industry-wide professional training needs and help hiring managers qualify candidates for roles.

A bit daunted, but excited, at the challenge of expounding on the merits of oxygen to All Who Breathe, the Job / Task Analysis team got to work. The nine-person think tank represented a wide cross-section of the US digital media industry, from a range of brands, company types, sizes, platforms, and geographies. What they shared was a common knowledge of digital media sales and a passion for helping to move the industry forward.

And move forward they did. By the third day, digital media jargon, abbreviations, and mathematics equations long taken for granted as general knowledge spilled from their lips as casually as … well, as casually as the oxygen rushed in to fuel their next brilliant observation. Participants were astounded to discover not only how much endemic knowledge they tapped into each day, but also how much of that know-how was shared across the industry, despite where each of them came from.

The output of this session will become the content outline for the certification exam. But first, their findings are being validated by the rest of the industry—that means you—through an online survey. All digital media sales teams should take this short survey to ensure we’re all breathing the same air. The link will be open until January 29, 2012.

About the Author

sp_schwartz_stacy.jpgStacy Smollin Schwartz

Stacy Smollin Schwartz is a consultant to the IAB and is project manager of its new Digital Media Sales Certification program.