A certificate program in Internet marketing and advertising is expected to start this fall at York University.

The certificate program, which is still pending final approval by the university, is a joint venture with the Internet Advertising Bureau of Canada and ninedots, an interactive advertising agency.

Dawna Henderson, ninedots’ president and managing partner, said the genesis for the certificate program came from a realization a couple of years ago that there is a need for people who work in the media industry to understand the online world.

“”They need to understand the advertising, the technology,”” said Henderson. “”They need to understand the tracking and the analysis.””

Brent Lowe-Bernie, chairman of Toronto-based IAB Canada, agreed that there’s still lots to be learned about the Internet and the certificate program is a concrete way to address that issue.

“”We believe that the Internet is still a medium that people don’t understand, don’t know enough about and don’t necessarily keep on top of”” he said. “”Even in the last couple of years it’s changed an awful lot.””

It should be remembered, too, Lowe-Bernie continued, that the analytical and strategic demands of offline media buying and planning are coming to the online world so more sophistication rather than less is called for. The spread of high speed connections offers considerable potential as well, he said, noting there will be some big moves this year in online brand awareness.

Although the program’s curriculum hasn’t yet been set — and York’s official approval process doesn’t start until March — Lowe-Bernie nevertheless has some definite ideas about what it should offer.

“”We want to cover some of the foundation issues,”” he said. “”Some of the things that sound simple but may not be that simple at all, such as how to build a Web site, what’s the best way to do it, what are some of the dos and don’ts.””

Other lessons Lowe-Bernie said he’d like to see taught would be how the Internet fits into a client’s overall marketing mix, how it can assessed using internal and external measurement, performance milestones and an examination of those he calls “”the best of breed.””

Toronto-based Henderson, whose ninedots clients include Nike, Molson and Levis, also has some specific ideas about the program. She said online marketing and advertising is really a specialty and eventually she would like to see the proposed York certificate become a prerequisite to working in the online media industry.

Both Henderson and Lowe-Bernie said they hope to see guest lectures by senior media industry figures become a regular feature of the program.

Cindy Bettcher, director of the continuing education division in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies at York, said she can’t say much about the certificate until the university gives its approval. However, she did say that should the program get the go-ahead it will be under the academic sponsorship of the School of Administrative Studies at York.

Classroom instruction is expected to run to 100-plus hours, said Bettcher, and the first classes will be held not on York’s main campus on the northwest edge of Toronto but downtown in space provided by the Globe and Mail in its Front St. West offices. The newspaper is a prominent and long-time member of IAB Canada.

Lowe-Bernie had high praise for York and the credibility its reputation will confer on the certificate, but he acknowledged that, at least for the first year, a more central location than York was necessary to attract people to the program.

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