Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Programmatic advertising in recruitment: start paying attention

Ted Bauer
March 15, 2017


Programmatic advertising is alive and well in the present. However, many recruiters still think of it as a future strategy. Programmatic advertising will account for 50% of all digital ad sales by 2018, if not even sooner. That is only a year from now, so if you’re still not putting dollars into this method of recruitment, you should start paying attention. Despite this rapid scalability of programmatic advertising, it’s been slow to adapt to the recruiting and entry-level hiring space. Here we will explore how this new technology will look in the recruitment space.

A primer on programmatic advertising

The overall concept of programmatic advertising can be very nuanced. Essentially, it’s based on artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB). It automates the decision-making process for where to place advertisements online. As digital and mobile technologies scaled, programmatic was a way to help maximize the ROI of advertising budgets. Consider this: there are more than 41,000 zip codes in the United States alone. To manually optimize and target campaign efforts is beyond the scope of most human beings. Here there was a natural space for programmatic advertising, which can automatically understand where to place advertisements based on a web user’s data patterns. As Digiday has summarized, albeit a bit flippant, “It’s using machines to buy ads.”

Programmatic advertising kills “post and pray” in recruitment

Recruiters just wait for applicants to come inThe standard recruiting approach for years has been “post and pray.” A company will create (or recycle) a job description and then mass-post to a variety of boards. Then, they just hope some ideal candidates roll in. The ROI on this process is suspect, and it’s even more suspect if you’re a company with high-volume hiring needs. While you need a lot of candidates, you also need to stay within budget — so there has to be a degree of strategy and targeting to the process. Unfortunately, there often is not.

Programmatic advertising attempts to solve some of these issues. It proves a clearer ROI and makes sure that recruitment advertising budgets are slotted towards the most important vacancies. And, above all: the processes that used to give recruiters the most headaches are now almost entirely automated.

Also read: Confused about pay for performance in recruitment marketing? Get a peek behind the curtain.

A breakdown: What does this look like for recruiters?

If you are a recruiter just trying out programmatic advertising, here’s how it breaks down at the ground level:

  1. The employer loads up a job, or a series of jobs.
  2. The employer sets a price they are willing to pay for each click to their job ad. If it’s a high-need, immediate-fill type of job, the price point could be higher. A more passive search that can be filled within 2-3 months could have a lower price point.
  3. The employer would also set the number of applicants they might want for that specific role. Let’s use 100 as a baseline.
  4. The employer also has to set a target audience for the job, such as “recent college graduates in the Omaha, Nebraska area with a coding skill set.”
  5. The employer is now essentially almost done with their part of the process. Once the parameters above are set, the vendor or software suite powering the programmatic advertising does the rest.

Programmatic advertising does strategizing for youImportant to remember here: In a standard cost-per-click model, about six percent of job ads get over 50 percent of the clicks. In a programmatic advertising model, traffic is directed to jobs that need more applicants (which translates to more clicks on job ad). On the recruiter side of the equation, programmatic advertising can reduce the cost of a quality hire by upwards of 30 percent.

All this, taken together, is why the process of advertising jobs is expected to be about 80 percent programmatic by 2020.

College Recruiter uses programmatic advertising to help with high volume hiring

We have been using programmatic advertising since 2014 for mobile and display banner advertising solutions. More recently, though, we launched JobsThatScale, a process designed to save high-volume recruiters time. It takes too much time to post on a hundred job boards in order to find enough candidates. Once we understand your needs, we use a pay-per-click formula to drive enough quality candidates to your posting to fill all your positions.

Programmatic advertising has opened up a much more logical path to scale high-ROI recruiting. This focus on scale and ROI brings recruitment into alignment with what executives wish to see. Executive buy-in can potentially mean increased resources and budget towards recruiting, so if you are a recruiter who still isn’t using programmatic advertising, it’s time to do yourself a favor.

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