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A Marketer's Guide to IAB Certifications

Andreas Rivera
, writer
Sep 20, 2017
Image Credit: Anze Bizjan/Shutterstock
> Career

Show employers and clients your expertise in online advertising sales and marketing

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is a think-tank organization that conducts studies and sets standards revolving around digital marketing and online advertising. The group consists of committees of industry experts and has a membership of more than 650 media and technology companies. It is widely considered a global authority on all things pertaining to online marketing and advertising.

In 2012, the organization introduced the IAB Professional Certification program. There are four different tracks that can earn professionals a certification: Digital Media Sales, Digital Ad Operations, Digital Data Solutions, and Digital Media Buying and Planning. The program is an exam-based credential that represents your knowledge in the field and can be proudly displayed on a resume. The IAB says it has received more than 8,500 applicants for certifications, the most popular being the Digital Media Sales certification for professionals who work in online advertising sales.

Why do I need an IAB certification?

The IAB Professional Certification was developed by digital media experts for the purposes of creating a standard credential that would help employers identify if prospective employees were knowledgeable enough in digital media and advertising.

With more media migrating to the internet, it's no longer enough to have a college degree and some job experience. The IAB certification is the only standard credential you can earn that reflects that you know how to apply your advertising and marketing expertise in an online environment.

Those with an IAB Digital Media Sales Certification are likely to be knowledgeable in the digital advertising ecosystem – selling digital media, managing online advertising campaigns and analyzing campaign performances. This certification will not only make you more attractive to employers but also establish credibility and trust with potential buyers and clients.

The Digital Ad Operations Certification covers how to execute and manage live, digital campaigns, as well as managing client and partner relationships. The Digital Data Solutions Certification tests your knowledge of data policies, managing data supply, creating products and developing client data solutions. Digital Media Buying and Planning covers expertise for media buyers in managing campaigns and creating strategies and plans.  

The IAB itself offers special benefits to certification holders, such as discounts to its events and further education courses.

How do I get an IAB certification?

To be eligible, you must have two years of work experience in digital media sales. If you don't meet that requirement, there are a few other options for qualifying, including one year in digital media sales with two years in digital media non-sales and 15 hours of continuing education in digital media. An undergraduate or graduate degree in digital marketing with one year of work experience in general sales or media is also acceptable.

The exam and certification cost $500 for IAB members and $600 for nonmembers. The organization also offers packages for exam preparation and training. If you are an individual seeking this certification, be aware that companies will sometimes pay for the exam costs if they recognize the value of having people on staff with IAB certifications. Some companies require their staff to be certified as soon as they're qualified, including Google, Bloomberg, AOL and Time Inc.

After you apply for the certification and are accepted, you'll schedule to take the exam at one of the designated testing centers, which are located in most major cities. The exam itself consists of 100 multiple-choice questions pertaining to the certification you applied for. If you pass, you'll receive your certification within four weeks.

The certification itself is valid for two years. To qualify for a recertification, you must either earn 24 continuing education credits from an accepted institution or take the certification exam. Be aware that the exam is updated with new questions every six months. There is also a recertification fee of $175 for IAB members and $225 for nonmembers.


There are few drawbacks to earning an IAB certification for your field, especially if your employer can sponsor you for the exam and preparation. This certification will further establish trust between yourself and your clients, who will know that you're not only adept at advertising sales, but that you've dedicated yourself and have become qualified to extend this knowledge to the ever-growing digital market.

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Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a staff writer for and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.
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