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Advice for Employers and Recruiters

A beginner’s guide to programmatic job advertising

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
May 24, 2024

Before we dive into the meat of this article, let’s first be sure that we agree on what is programmatic job advertising.

Quite simply, programmatic job advertising is just an automated way for employers and other advertisers like employment advertising agencies and job boards to buy job ads using software. Instead of a human deciding what job ad to post to what job board, at what price, on what start date, and when to inactivate it, programmatic job advertising systems use data and algorithms to decide where and when to show ads. This helps employers find the right candidates faster and more efficiently.

How Does It Work?

  1. Set Goals: Companies start by setting their goals. For some employers, their goal might be to minimize the cost per candidate who sees their job ad and clicks to the employer’s ATS or other such career site. For others, they want to minimize the cost per application. For a very small number of others, quality metrics such as the effective cost per interviewed candidate or even hired candidate come into play, but very, very employers are using goals such as those when it comes to deciding where to post their job ads. Regardless of the goal, the employer or other advertiser needs to decide what kind of candidates they need and how much they want to spend per click, application, or other metric.
  2. Use Data: The software looks at data to find the best places to show the job ads. It considers things like the job title, location, and skills needed. The more job ads flowing through, the more data there will be. Employers typically have access only to their own data but job boards have access to data for all jobs from all employers and programmatic job ad distributors have access to even more data. The more data, the better the decisions will be.
  3. Automated Buying: The software buys the ads automatically, without needing human help. This saves time and money. Typically, when an employer buys a job ad, they might spend $200 on a posting that runs for 30 days. When job ads are purchased programmatically, they’re almost always purchased on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-application (CPA) basis, so it costs nothing to run an ad unless candidates respond by clicking or applying.
  4. Optimize: The software continuously checks how well the ads are doing. It makes changes to improve the results. If the software sees that a lot of candidates are clicking but not applying, it can automatically deactivate the job and shift the budget from that poorly performing job board to another whose clicks are converting well into applications.

Benefits of Programmatic Job Advertising

  • Efficiency: Saves time and money by automating the ad buying process.
  • Targeting: Uses data to target the right candidates, increasing the chances of finding the best fit.
  • Flexibility: Can adjust ad placements in real-time based on performance.
  • Measurable Results: Provides clear data on how well the ads are performing.

Key Components

  1. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs): These are tools that help companies buy ads. They connect to many different websites and job boards.
  2. Data Management Platforms (DMPs): These collect and analyze data to help target the right candidates.
  3. Real-Time Bidding (RTB): This is a way of buying ads in real-time, like an auction. It helps get the best price for ad space.

How to Get Started

  1. Choose a Provider: Pick a programmatic job advertising provider. Look for one with good reviews and a strong track record. In the early career space, you’re going to want College Recruiter.
  2. Set Up Campaigns: Work with the provider to set up your job ad campaigns. Define your goals and budget.
  3. Monitor and Adjust: Keep an eye on the performance of your ads. Make adjustments as needed to improve results.


  • Complexity: It can be complex to set up and manage. Companies might need help from experts.
  • Data Privacy: Ensuring candidate data is protected is important.
  • Cost: While it can save money in the long run, there might be upfront costs.

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