Accreditation Raises The Bar For IAB Certification Programs

Accreditation Raises The Bar For IAB Certification Programs

The IAB Digital Media Sales and Digital Ad Operations Certification programs gained a great deal of prestige on November 2, 2015, when they announced accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Given how quickly things are moving in the digital advertising world these days, it has never been more important to ensure the strength of the standards and practices we use to assess the knowledge held by the people who work in our industry. By earning ANSI’s seal of approval, IAB is able to verify that its 7,500 participating professionals are involved in a certification process rigorous enough to meet the high standards held by an impartial, internationally-recognized accreditation body. “Earning the accreditation is the highest accolade that any program like ours can possibly earn,” said Michael Theodore, Senior Vice President of Learning and Development, IAB and General Manager of the IAB Education Foundation. “And having earned it, we need to maintain our standards in order to keep our accreditation.”

The ANSI accreditation adds an extra layer of validity to the growing IAB certification program, which allow digital media companies and their employees to guarantee that they are up to speed on the latest best practices in sales and ad operations. Already, the programs enjoyed their best testing quarter to date in Q3 of 2015, bolstered by commitments from industry leaders like NBCUniversal, AOL and Time Warner Cable to get their entire teams of eligible candidates certified. In order to become accredited, IAB underwent a year-long process in which it completed an intensive written application followed by an inspection by independent assessors who conducted staff interviews, verified day-to-day processes and governance procedures, and reviewed internal paperwork to ensure that the certification process was up to standard. The assessors then revealed their findings to the accrediting body who would review and determine the final result.

Over the course of its review, ANSI was able to verify that, among other things, the IAB certification exams meet psychometric testing standards, the programs’ governance laws have a sufficient mechanism for people to submit complaints and the committees that develop exam content include a diverse selection of subject-matter experts. By satisfying ANSI’s stringent requirements, IAB Certification has become the digital advertising industry’s first personnel certification to achieve accreditation and thereby joined an elite group of airtight certification programs nationwide. Indeed, of the more than 4,000 personnel certifications presently offered in the United States, fewer than 10% have gained accreditation.

“We are proud to offer a certification that provides worthwhile credentials, not just because we claim so, but because a third-party accreditation body has verified it,” said Lauren Milligan, Learning and Development Manager, IAB. “We can tout the credibility of our program, but this stamp of approval does so on our behalf.”

The IAB created its first certification program three years ago in order to help agencies and marketers verify that the digital salespeople they hired all held a deep understanding of the changing advertising landscape and were able to provide sound advice to their clients. In the years since, the digital advertising industry’s leading trade association has rolled out additional certifications for ad operations and data solutions employees, all of which require professionals to provide evidence of relevant experience in their fields and successfully complete a 100-question exam.

Enrollment in the program is up 80% year-over-year in 2015, a testament to the value it provides stakeholders across the industry. And now that two of the credentials have earned accreditation from such a widely respected standards body, one can only assume that more and more people will choose to experience this value for themselves. “I’d like to think that for people who have been unsure about whether it’s worth the investment to have a certified sales or ad ops team, this will provide the proof that they have been looking for,” Theodore said. “It’s like the difference between going to a college that’s accredited and one that isn’t.”

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