In a combined approach to developing young talent in media, the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) and agencies across the industry have come together to develop the Digital Foundations Certification Program.
The industry-first program has been designed to fast-track the learning of new recruits and set a benchmark for digital understanding and knowledge.
Nearly 600 members from media agencies recently completed the program, ending with a rigorous two-hour exam in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.Stuart Bailey, PHD’s chief digital officer and chair of the MFA Interactive Group responsible for developing the Digital Foundations Certification Program, said the course sets baseline digital knowledge across the Australian media agency landscape.
“Digital is our future, and as other forms of media continue to digitise, it’s vital that our industry has consistent, quality and up-to-date education on best practice approaches for clients,” he said.
“We are an industry where focus on the negative is often the default, and it was great to be part of a project that celebrates what we can do when we work together and focus on solutions rather than problems.”
The program’s first-round results were impressive, with two-thirds of young talent now certified. Over 77 per cent of the participants across the nation achieved the minimum 80 per cent exam result, and Brisbane lead the way with an exam average of 85 per cent with 8 per cent achieving over 95 per cent.
MF chief executive Sophie Madden said: “We’re thrilled with the results of our first exam and to see so many members of our industry upskilling in this crucial area.
“Digital is the number one growth area in our business, and ensuring that all members have a strong and consistent foundation level of digital knowledge sets our industry up for continued growth and success.”
For new talent like Brianna Wells from Media Lab, the program sets a high standard of knowledge and strong base for a budding career in the industry.
“Understanding the digital landscape is extremely important for me to be able to gain context for an entire campaign and understand how the media plan supports the digital strategy,” she said.
“The program covered different areas of the digital landscape separately so we could learn about all pillars of digital as opposed to getting a really broad overview.
“Search was an area that I had zero exposure to prior to the program commencing. I now understand the foundations for how it all works and how it directly links to the work I do as an offline trader.
Wells said the exam was very different to what she expected.
“It was not just questions that simply tested our ‘textbook knowledge’. It also made us apply the concepts we had learnt to actual media scenarios,” she said.
“Often two out of four answers were technically correct. However, we had to use both our knowledge gained throughout the course and work experience to determine the answer that would achieve the best outcome.”
Ricky Chanana from Maxus Communications facilitated a number of the training modules, seeing first-hand the benefit of investing in talent early in their careers.
“One of the highlights of the MFA Digital Foundations has been the cross-pollination effort between all the agency digital heads to build the course ground up,” he said.
“This had been the single biggest USP for this program as the whole industry came together to fulfil the necessary skill gap.
“This also means we had been able to run various sessions with multiple senior leads within our industry and share real life experiences which has helped the younger guys.”
“The aim for MFA Digital Foundations courses is to escalate the digital learning curve for everyone who is coming into the industry.
“The biggest advantage of this is that it jumpstarts all the entry-level roles to then enrol themselves into their choice of more specialised disciplines such as programmatic, SEM, social etc.”
The program, which took 12 months to develop, has been rolled out across all MFA agencies, who have committed to making it a compulsory requirement for newcomers with less than one year’s experience and optional for those with more than one year’s experience.
It consists of several in-house training modules covering digital media essentials, including terminology, planning and trading models, and evaluation and measurement metrics.
The program is ongoing, with the second round of participants now in training and their exams to be held late 2017.