Case Study

    Interactive Advertising Bureau Automates Credentialing Program with Digital Badges


    The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) comprises more than 650 leading media and technology companies that sell, deliver, and optimize digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Combined, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States

    Working with its member companies, IAB develops technical standards and best practices for digital communication. IAB also fields critical research on interactive advertising and is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. 

    The IAB Certification Program launched in 2012, created out of marketplace demand. It is the first digital advertising program to earn accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Additionally, IAB Learning & Development serves the industry by offering education programs and classes in Programmatic Advertising, Leadership, Digital Fundamentals, and much more.

    “People do see my certification badge and they’re excited about it.”

    Zoya Aviaeva, Channel Manager, 33Across

    Certification Program & Badging Challenges

    The media industry is in a period of rapid change. Publishers, vendors and marketers need to understand how to maximize the platforms upon which ads are delivered. As the leader in digital advertising and marketing best practices, and in response to on-going innovations in technology platforms, standards, and consumer behavior, IAB was asked by the industry to create a program through which media buyers could easily identify whether or not their sales representatives have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform in their roles.

    IAB created the Certification Program first for Digital Media Sales, followed by Digital Ad Operations and Digital Data. Most recently, IAB created a certification program for Media Buying and Planning. To obtain this credential, individuals must pass a professionally curated exam at a Pearson VUE testing center. The IAB certification program has quickly become the digital industry’s benchmark for excellence, with more than 10,000 participants from 300+ top media companies including AOL, Cox Media Group, Google, NBCUniversal, and Time Warner Cable Media, among others. The program benefits both the partner companies and the certified individuals, from training to expanded knowledge and increased confidence in job performance.

    Always forward-thinking, IAB first experimented with static digital badges. These early badges consisted of a JPEG image that did not include metadata to provide context and details around the associated certification, nor a means for verifying the active status of the certification. IAB certification holders obtained one of the static digital badges through a link sent via an email from IAB. Certification holders then uploaded the image to social media sites one-by-one.

    If an individual did not recertify and the certification expired, IAB contacted him or her directly to request the removal of the IAB badge from any digital sites or resumes. This manual approach was time-consuming and not scalable for the growing number of partner companies that had joined IAB. IAB was challenged to find a way to efficiently manage and communicate the issuing and expiration of certifications, and for certification holders to easily share their achievements with employers, peers and professional networks.

    AB & Credly

    To address these challenges, IAB looked to digital badges issued in the web standard Open Badge format. In considering which badge platform would best meet its needs, the organization sought a solution that offered:

    • An exceptional user experience with seamless sharing to multiple online destinations
    • Easy integration with an API source to reduce manual oversight of the program, including issuing, expiring, and revoking badges
    • Access to robust reporting to track key badge program performance metrics such as acceptance, share, and badge-view rates

    Credly had industry-leading capabilities that met each of IAB’s requirements. IAB also chose Credly as its digital badging provider because of the breadth of services for the price.

    “With two-thirds of our certification holders opting in to display their credential via a badge, we’ve been able to unleash a very cost effective grassroots marketing campaign. Not only are successful certificants promoting themselves, they are also marketing the IAB certification program for us.”

    Michael Theodore, SVP Learning & Development and General Manager, IAB Education Foundation


    IAB collaborated with Credly to transition its existing, manual badge program over to an integrated, feature-rich badging solution. With its new digital badge program, IAB is able to:

    • Continue to lead the media and marketing industries with best practices to develop, manage, and share certifications
    • Easily issue and revoke digital badges
    • Encourage badge earners to keep skill sets current through recertification
    • Increase the scalability of its certification program as demand increases through corporate partnerships and agreements
    • Provide IAB certification holders with job opportunities that specifically require the certifications and skills the organization develops

    IAB launched its badging program in 2015 with a selection of its top designations that require the highest level of education and investment by certification holders.

    IAB Digital Media Sales Certification

    This is the only globally recognized certification designed for digital media sales and has been accredited by ANSI. This credential is maintained by subject-matter experts overseen by an independent Commission on Certification.

    IAB Digital Ad Operations Certification

    This is the only certification created specifically for digital advertising operations professionals and has been accredited by ANSI. This credential is maintained by subject-matter experts overseen by an independent Commission on Certification.


    Pictogram-RGB-Coral Pink_Callendar

    IAB issued over 6,000 badges in 15 months.

    Pictogram-RGB-Lime Green_Personal security

    IAB certification holders are highly engaged, with more than 66% of badges being claimed.

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    IAB’s badges have been accepted in more than 30 countries.

    Pictogram-RGB-Bright Orange_UI-UX development

    On average, an IAB badge earner shared a badge more than once to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Those badges were viewed multiple times by employers and peers.

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    43% of IAB badge earners reportedly received positive feedback from their professional network after sharing a badge.

    AB Digital Data Solutions Certification

    This certification ensures that candidates demonstrate the ability to succeed in the intersection of digital advertising and data. It is the only official credential in digital advertising that demonstrates individuals have the knowledge needed to manage complex
    data programs for their clients and across their
    own companies.

    The initial success of the certification badges prompted IAB to extend its program to other IAB educational courses, including:

    IAB Advanced Programmatic Program

    Individuals with this designation have a programmatic understanding of buying and selling digital advertising, with in-depth working knowledge of the key technologies that make up today’s programmatic ad stack across display, mobile, video, social media, email marketing, and native advertising.

    IAB Digital Leadership Program

    Participants in this course obtain the managerial skills and knowledge needed to lead digital media and advertising teams through the changes and opportunities in technology, sales, data, creativity, and measurement on their way to becoming executive front-runners in the industry.


    In the first year of its badging relationship with Credly, IAB achieved its goals. Manual processes have been replaced with an automated approach that enhances the IAB’s status as a digital leader. Thousands of jobs across the world require the skills that IAB develops, and the Credly platform connects IAB’s badge earners with those job opportunities. Badging is a key component of IAB’s ongoing success and impact on the world of digital media and marketing.


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