IAB Pushes Ad Sales Certification Exam

Industry looks to adopt a formal verification procedure for personnel

Lawyers need to pass the bar exam. Wall Street folks have the Series 7 certification. Shouldn't the online ad industry have its own must-pass exam?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau believes that in this ever-more-complicated world of sophisticated ad technology and data targeting, the timing is right to require a common knowledge base for ad sellers. Thus, the organization has been working with select members to unveil an official certification for digital sales executives starting sometime this summer.

While plans are still being developed, the idea is that the IAB and its members will develop an official examination consisting of 75 to 100 questions that executives would need to pass in order to receive the certification, according to Patrick Dolan, evp and COO of the IAB.

Who would take the exam? Everybody from hardened veterans to new entrants to the industry looking to beef up their resumes.

It’s the veterans who may need to prep for the exam more than you think. According to Dolan and Michael Theodore, IAB’s vp of member services, the explosion of opaque technologies and various acronyms have caused confusion even among seasoned industry leaders.

“There is a very low comfort level with some of this information,” said Theodore. “Yet these are things that every good salesperson should know.”

Theoretically, the exam could include questions such as “what is the difference between a supply-side platform, a demand-side platform and a data-management platform?” (The answer: No one knows.)

“Enthusiasm for this is very high,” said Theodore. “These publishers want to know that their people know what is going on in the marketplace. There’s never been a central way for companies to do that.”

However, what happens when various IAB members find out they have to pay for their employees to take such an exam (fee TBD)? Some may say, “Thanks, but we can train our own people.”