June 16, 2017   view past issues

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The Machines Are Coming (and that’s a good thing)

Have you ever asked yourself:
• Which job boards should you use to get the best candidates for each of your open jobs?
• How can you avoid overspending for applicants when you have enough for an opening?
• When should you invest more in order to attract more candidates for a critical vacancy?

Well, now you can get the answers to all of those questions with a new technology called programmatic ad buying. Appcast defines it this way:

“Programmatic advertising is the buying, placement and optimization of ads
performed by software, rather than people.”

The goals are several fold:
• First, the machines free you from the time drain of ad posting and management, so you can devote your attention and skills to candidate assessment and communication.
• Second, you spend your recruitment advertising budget more effectively, so you get a Goldilocks number of applicants – not too many, not too few, but just the right flow to fill each opening.
• And third, you get the candidates you need in the time frame you need them to keep those pesky hiring managers happy.

Of course, programmatic ad buying is no silver bullet. It too has challenges which require careful attention and management. Right now, for example, most programmatic ads are distributed within “walled gardens” that include only legitimate job boards. In the future, however, it’s likely that ads will be posted to connect with candidates outside those gardens – anywhere on the Web – and that means they might be placed near content that could harm an organization’s brand. Protocols and applications have yet to be developed to avoid this problem.

In addition, programmatic ad buying occurs in conjunction with performance based advertising – that is, the employer only pays when it receives an acceptable yield from an ad. That desired yield is defined by the recruiter in just two steps: 1. They set a budget for each ad as well as a “bid” – what they are willing to pay per click or applicant who responds to the ad; and 2. They set “rules” for the ad’s performance – the characteristics of acceptable candidates, for example, or the number of applicants they want to see for the opening. After that, the machine does all the work.

Unfortunately, however, almost half of the clicks now generated by ads posted online are caused by bots or crawlers and thus have absolutely no value to an employer. It’s important, therefore, to know how publishers (job boards, job search engines, digital media companies, social media sites) winnow out such worthless clicks from their reports of ad performance so employers aren’t paying for them. Fortunately, the protocols for such transparency and accuracy in ad performance are now being developed, but they are still not yet widely adopted. See the TAtech InSights of June 7th.

Finally, more effective placement and management of job ads won’t overcome the negative impact of poorly written ad copy. Not all organizations post substandard ads, of course, but far too many do, and the result – even when an ad is posted on the perfect job boards for an opening – is almost always long lead times to fill vacancies and selection from a pool of mediocre applicants.

How Can You Learn More?

Each year, TAtech holds a one-day Leadership Summit on programmatic ad buying in talent acquisition. At the most recent event held on June 1st, we surveyed the employers that attended. They ranged from Fortune 100 enterprises to regional and local companies. Here is some of what they told us:

Where is their organization going with programmatic ad buying?
Just under a third (32%) said they expected at least 50% of their budget to be directed toward programmatic ad spending within 12 months.

What are their challenges in deploying programmatic ad buying?
The respondents said that the biggest inhibitors to increased use were:
• Not enough publishers currently offer programmatic to give employers a clear choice among suppliers.
• The available networks of job boards offering programmatic ad buying are too limited and often overlap in coverage.
• It is still a challenge to get transparent and accurate data with which to evaluate ad performance and ROI.

What developments would they most like to see from vendors that offer programmatic ad buying?
The respondents asked for:
• Better targeting – the ability to identify and reach high caliber prospects wherever they are on the Web.
• Better pricing support – recommendations on how to initially determine ad bids so they reach the right prospects right away.
• Faster ad adjustments – more timely shifts in spending so that ad results (i.e., the right candidate flow) are optimized more quickly.

The machines are coming to online recruitment advertising – not to terminate recruiters, but instead, to free them up for the more important aspects of recruiting. Programmatic ad buying uses software to take the labor out of ad posting. It doesn’t necessarily replace traditional time-based job ads or eliminate the need for careful oversight of ad performance. It’s just one more tool in the kit bag of a modern talent acquisition professional.

P.S. Information on next year’s TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying will be published in this newsletter as it becomes available.

TAtech Insights is brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2017 events include:
• April 22-23, 2017 Chicago: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center, with The Business Accelerator has now occurred. See you at next year’s Spring Congress in … Miami!
• May 17-19, 2017 Barcelona: RecTech, The TAtech Industry Congress in the EU in partnership with the AIM Group. See you at next year’s RecTech in … Dublin!
• May 31-June 1, 2017 Minneapolis: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying, featuring two tracks: Programmatic Ad Buying Applications & Programmatic Ad Buying Technology. See you at next year’s Programmatic Summit!
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.