May 13, 2015   view past issues

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Programmatic Media: the Future of Recruitment Advertising?

Programmatic Media: the Future of Recruitment Advertising?

By Chris Forman, Founder & CEO Appcast

If you’ve been in the job ad buying space long enough, you’ll know that every now and again a technology comes along that, almost overnight, revolutionizes the way we run ad campaigns. First, a miraculous invention called the Internet sprung recruiters from the confines of the classified ad and gave them massive relevant outreach via online job boards; then pay-per-click advertising gave businesses far greater control over their recruitment budgets. Smart phones, social media, cloud storage; all of these evolutions have impacted response rates and candidate engagement. Now there’s a new kid on the block set to fundamentally reshape the recruitment advertising landscape-programmatic advertising.

What is programmatic advertising?

In a nutshell, programmatic advertising utilizes machine-to-machine communication to purchase online ads in real-time, according to a set of criteria. Human beings define the customer profile, such as the age, geographic location and income of the “ideal” consumer, then software takes over. Complex algorithms and “big data” figure out where in the digital ecosystem your audience hangs out on the web and ensures your job ads are placed in front of the right demographic at just the right time and in just the right place-even if the “right place” is a niche real estate blog in Providence. Wherever your proverbial needle surfs, programmatic will find your target audience in the online haystack.

Programmatic means buying ad space automatically on a web page, either by buying it directly so it’s guaranteed to be yours or through high-speed real-time bidding (RTB). As a web page loads, information about the webpage and the user viewing it is transferred to a third party platform called an ad exchange. The ad exchange auctions off the available impression to the highest bidder. This all happens in the milliseconds it takes for a webpage to load, and the winning ad appears on the loaded web page.

The key idea is that artificial intelligence makes better placement decisions than people to improve marketing ROI. Fully automated software systems make instantaneous bidding decisions – all the advertiser has to do is buy automated impressions at pre-determined rates and optimize campaigns via a web interface. A few mouse clicks and you’re done.

What’s the impact for recruitment advertising?

To say the impact is significant would be an understatement. Before programmatic, anyone who wished to place a job ad would have to research the best on-or-offline space to reach the candidates, engage in an admin-heavy process of querying slot pricing and availability from various publishers, place orders and manually upload the job ad copy into the server.

The rise of programmatic advertising in the job space means that recruitment advertisers no longer have to post their job ad and pray. Instead, job ads are hyper-targeting highly relevant people across a logical range of sites with increasing accuracy, and budgets can be managed in real-time. It’s exciting because it’s scalable, it vastly improves the efficacy of job ads and reduces wasted spend by:

  • Easily seeking out viable candidates and reaching out, widely and through various channels, until the message elicits the desired response-in this case, a job application.
  • Seeking websites that have the least expensive ad space from among the demographic’s page visits, which promises to deliver a significantly higher yields on advertising spend.
  • Letting the recruiter specify his own financial parameters and smartly engineer the allocation of ad dollars towards critical and hard-to-fill vacancies that need applications, thus optimizing the effectiveness of a recruitment campaign.
  • Freeing smart people from the grunt work, so recruiters can focus on creative and involved activities.

One thing’s for sure: the future is rosy for programmatic. In 2013, the IDC announced that spending on RTB display advertising will accelerate at by 59% year upon year through 2016, making it the fastest growing segment of digital advertising. A report from BI Intelligence suggests that fast-growing RTB will account for over $18.2 billion in U.S. digital ad revenues in 2018, up from just $3.1 billion in 2013. eMarketer agrees and predicts that “still nascent” real time bidding “will drive future growth.”

Where consumer advertising goes, recruitment follows…

Back in the 1990’s, the Internet had ‘walled gardens’ as sites like AOL and MSN served as the medium for advertisers to reach consumers browsing the web. Five years later, recruitment followed the same model. The advent of job boards, such as Monster and CareerBuilder, provided a web-based ecosystem where recruiters could find people looking for work.

Soon after the recruitment industry got comfortable with this model, along came Google. In the early 2000’s, the search engine giant disrupted the ‘walled garden’ in the consumer world forever with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising-a paradigm shift. Sure enough, five years later, recruitment followed suit. Platforms like Indeed and SimplyHired launched their own PPC models that enabled recruiters to spread their budget across sites where the candidates they needed were looking and spend only when someone clicked to view a posting.

PPC is not without its problems. While it has certainly helped shape how advertisers focus their budget, it must be managed manually and requires sophistication to drive strong performance.

Enter-approximately five years ago-the programmatic advertising engine. Instead of having the consumer advertiser plan and build a sophisticated strategy, the sophistication is served to them on a silver platter. Advertisers pull in their end goal, set custom advertising rules and budgets, and hit ‘go’-it’s automated. Performance and results are watched in real-time.

If all this ‘ad tech gobbled gook’ doesn’t make sense, try this: think of it like buying stocks versus a mutual fund. Right now, recruiters are buying stocks. There’s nothing wrong with stocks, but stocks are more volatile to micro market conditions-they can see great gains, but also great losses and hits to the bottom line. Mutual funds, however, are a much more stable investment – and the only risk is from macro market, slower moving conditions. Mutual funds generally see steady growth. For recruiters, the latter is the approach that is needed.

The Bottom Line

Programmatic advertising is another paradigm shift-and it’s set to take the laggard recruitment advertising industry by storm.

The fact is, where digital marketers go, recruiters always follow. We’ve seen it with job boards and we’ve seen it with PPC. With the rest of the digital world marching towards programmatic, there’s no way recruiting can stay stuck in the classifieds. If you can sell an Audi or dog food through programmatic ads you can do the same with an inventory of jobs. And in today’s hyper-competitive recruiting environment, anything that can break the talent ceiling is likely to become reality pretty quickly.

Programmatic Ad Buying – The Conference

The IAEWS will present the first in a new series of Leadership Symposia called Programmatic Ad Buying – The Coming Wave in Recruitment Media. The one-day event will be held at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center in Chicago, IL USA on June 30, 2015.

Programmatic ad buying has revolutionized mainstream consumer advertising. The use of data to power high-speed bidding and analytics engines has irrevocably altered how advertising dollars are spent on classifieds, search, and social and display ads.

This revolution is now coming to recruitment.

From new start-ups focused exclusively on ad technology for the employment industry to radical changes at established advertising agencies and publishers, programmatic ad buying strategies and technologies are starting to creep into recruitment advertising. This symposium will bring together an unprecedented array of technology and industry thought leaders to explore the current state of programmatic buying in recruitment media, its impact on employers and the job ad market, and what the future holds for the venerable “job posting”.

Who Should Attend:

  • Job Boards
  • Social Media Sites
  • Recruitment Advertising Agencies
  • Publishers
  • Recruiting Consultants
  • Employers

Seating is strictly limited to 130 participants. For more information and to register, please click here.

Private Research Bulletin

It’s tough to keep track of what’s happening in the online employment services industry. Companies are being bought and sold, new technology and services are being introduced, partnerships and alliances are being formed, and alternative business models and strategies are being tested and promoted. All of the time.

Staying on top of it all is critical to bottom line success. But who has the time to collect and read what’s published at the multiple channels that report on such matters? And equally as important, who wants to read everything when only a subset of the information is likely to impact your business?

WEDDLE’s Research Bulletin – a private, monthly e-report – solves these problems. It uses a wide range of sources – both inside and outside the industry – to capture the latest news relevant to online employment and then curates that information to deliver what’s most important with commentary about why and what it could mean.

The WEDDLE’s Research Bulletin is a for-fee publication that gives you your own in-house research and analysis arm. It focuses exclusively on the online employment services industry and delivers exactly what you need to know in just four easy-to-digest pages.

For more information about the Bulletin and its cost, please contact Peter Weddle at

Get the Recognition You Deserve!

The Recruiting Service Innovation Awards area all new and all about you!

That’s right, the ReSIs have expanded the competition to recognize:

  • Talent acquisition providers (e.g., job boards, social media sites, mobile apps, cloud-based solutions)
  • and

  • Talent acquisition partners (e.g., platform providers, content developers, ad distributors)

as well as

  • the individuals who work for those organizations (your CEO, product development czar, star customer service rep)
  • and

  • the products and services they provide to their customers (e.g., Best Enterprise Solution, Best SMB solution, Best Niche Employment Site).

In short, we’ll now be celebrating both the Innovators and the Innovations in the online employment services industry.

The ReSIs competition is open to all employment-related organizations worldwide. For more information on the ReSIs themselves and the nominating process, please click here.

Industry Books You Shouldn’t Miss

WEDDLE’s Bookstoreis the best source of books and other tools developed expressly for the digital talent acquisition industry. Here are some of the titles your peers have recently purchased:

The New Golden Rules of Job Board Success: Four Principles for Optimizing Operational & Bottom Line Performance in the 21st Century. The title says it all.

The Accidental Houseguest, a novel written by a job board owner who launches his tale at, “where second best is just too good.”

The Talent Sourcing & Recruitment Handbook, a Cybersleuth’s secrets to finding those with the rarest and most in-demand skills in the workforce.

Next Practices: Being Better Than Best in Online Recruitment, outside-the-box techniques for job postings, social recruiting and more.