Inside PPAI: PPAI Releases Revised MAS+ Certification Program


For more than a year, PPAI has worked to update and refresh its certification program to provide a better overall learning experience for industry professionals. All program changes were made based on feedback from members who have completed it, including members of the PPAI Certification Committee.

The changes began with revisions to the Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS), Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) and Master Advertising Specialist (MAS) programs in 2018. In August 2019 the revision process reached its conclusion with the introduction of an updated Master Advertising Specialist Plus (MAS+) certification. It was the final piece in enhancing PPAI’s certification program.

“We felt it was important to re-evaluate the certification programs in light of the way people learn these days,” says Melissa Weber, professional development manager. “It’s important that it reflects information pertinent to the industry as it changes. In redesigning the certification program, it allowed us to change out course material as necessary and as dictated by changes in the marketplace. We were also able to streamline the process while allowing people to chart their own course as far as taking elective courses relevant to the skillsets they sought to improve.”

Program updates reflect current trends in learning and development research that show that participants want to learn and be tested on information more granularly, rather than in one big exam weeks or months down the road. Weber says, “The revisions to our program allow learners to ingest smaller, ‘bite-sized’ pieces of information and then immediately be tested on their mastery before moving on. There’s no more waiting six months to sit down to a 200-plus question written exam.”

PPAI’s MAS+ certification is awarded to eligible promotional products applicants who have met all program requirements and have demonstrated their promotional products knowledge through a hands-on professional work project.

“The changes to the MAS+ program presented their own challenges,” says Weber. “Currently, there are 26 people in our industry who hold that designation. It’s a very elite group. The program was introduced in 2012 and after revisions were introduced in 2016, we saw a significant drop-off in industry professionals achieving the certification. It was our duty to get to the bottom of the issue. In doing so, we put the program on hold and tried to really get to the heart of the MAS+ program’s purpose.

“In the end, we felt it was best to highlight and capture best practices and case studies to share to the broader industry. Reflecting that thinking, we added a requirement to the MAS+ final project for a PowerPoint presentation that can be used as a webinar or provided to our members as a case study. The results have been excellent. We relaunched the refreshed program in the late summer and to this point we have had three project applications submitted and we hope to have the first of our MAS+ designees by Expo 2020.”

The changes to the certification program have been overwhelmingly successful, according to Weber. Through September 2019, PPAI is up 227 percent in TAS qualifications over the full year of 2018, 142 percent up in CAS certifications and 278 percent in MAS certifications. Weber says, “The numbers speak for themselves as far as the volume of people who have expressed an interest in exploring the program and those who are going through the stages to complete the program. The feedback we have is that it’s very approachable and participants appreciate that it can be done entirely online.”

For more information on PPAI’s certification program, visit www.ppai.org/members/certification/certification programs/.

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James Khattak is news editor of PPB.

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