DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions’ Head of Digital Igor Černiševski talked to Advertiser Serbia.
For starters, can you tell us about the DIMAQ (Digital Marketing Qualification) program: what field it concerns, what institution developed the program methodology, when was it introduced and by who in Serbia, what are the objectives and significance of one such educational effort, and whom is it intended for?
DIMAQ is an internationally recognized expertise certification program centered around digital marketing. The program is approved and endorsed by IAB Europe, and it sets forth the level of skill and competence required of digital marketing professionals. DIMAQ is practically an attestation to the expertise at IAB Europe level. The program targets digital marketing professionals, those who wish to become ones, and companies whose ranks include digital specialists.
DIMAQ enables current and future professionals to validate and improve their digital skills and streamline communication between advertisers, the media, and agencies, while helping employers assess their employees’ skills, which is why it’s becoming an important component in employee recruitment.
DIMAQ has been present in Serbia for nearly two years. Thanks to IAB Serbia, the country is one of the first in Europe to introduce DIMAQ as a measuring tool for individual expertise level. With the eighth DIMAQ underway and more than one hundred alumni, I can proudly say that we have fifty certified DIMAQ experts.
Who are the teachers, what are the topics, and what is the educational content of each of the topics of this year’s DIMAQ program in Serbia? When will the lectures be taking place?
The training program itself is made up of 12 modules. During the 42-hour training, the students have an opportunity to hear all about the basics of digital marketing, strategy, and planning, display advertising, Search Engine Marketing, video advertising, social media and content marketing, mobile marketing, programmatic advertising, email marketing, e-commerce, internet analytics, as well as online legal regulations. Practically, the students get everything that they need to be able to work in digital marketing in one place.
DIMAQ is led by certified trainers, prominent local digital marketing and advertising experts who use interactive and creative lectures to transfer their years-long experience and skills to the students.
DIMAQ teachers hold leading positions at the biggest agencies in the market, big publishers, and ad-tech and companies centering on digital.
The eighth round started on September 7, so the plan is for the next group to receive their certificates in early October, while the next training round is set to start on November 2, so there’s enough time to apply.
Can Serbia’s current supply of digital advertising workforce meet the increasing demand for professionals in this field? If not, how can the imbalance be overcome?
The main problem with digital media education is the staggering pace of change that digital technology brings. Formal education can hardly cope with this pace of change, so right now — besides a few exceptions — there’s no formal education that can produce specialists in this area for the market. Imagine you had a subject in your first year at university about advertising in digital media. By the time you are about to graduate, it’s clear that the skills you acquired three years ago are entirely outdated, meaning that the digital advertising industry has undergone such fundamental changes that the knowledge you acquired is no longer relevant.
The key is to constantly keep up. Keeping abreast of market changes and situations is key to DIMAQ, as well.
Once you get it, your DIMAQ certificate stays valid for two years, after which you need to re-certify. This does not mean that you have to take the exam again — you can get re-certified based on the points earned during the two years of validity. The points are earned through attending relevant events or engaging in IAB activities. With this model, we make sure that the certificate holders keep their skills up-to-date and keep up with industry changes.
What is your take on the importance of digital advertising for promoting and market positioning of both foreign and domestic brands in Serbia? Do you agree with our take that digital advertising in Serbia still has a relatively small share in the overall advertising market, despite it growing at double-digit rates year in year out (if you do agree, what are the possible instruments for changing the position of digital advertising)?
If we look at the size of Serbia’s digital advertising market compared with its neighboring countries, at first glance the situation doesn’t look bad, the size of our market was around EUR 36 million in 2018, while according to IAB, Slovenian and Croatian markets stood at EUR 53 and 56 million. A much more realistic indicator is the spending on digital advertising per capita, and in that we’re lagging five euros behind — for example Slovenia stand at 27 euros a year, while the UK is high at 270 euros a year. This information shouldn’t frighten us, but instead show us that the room for progress is plenty big, especially considering digital media consumption in Serbia is at a high level.
The common task of all market participants should be to increase the value of digital advertising, mainly through better results that we deliver to companies. One of the first and most important steps is to raise the awareness of digital marketing throughout the market, which is one of DIMAQ’s core tasks.
Reach out to all potential participants of this important training and recommend the program with all its benefits and qualities. Regardless of your previous work experience, the training will prepare you for success in the digital marketing business, and the DIMAQ certificate, which you are able to get after the training, will serve as an attestation to your skill and competence that is recognized throughout Europe.