The recruitment marketing industry is buzzing this week as sources participating in Google’s Job Ads alpha pilot report that the tech giant will discontinue investment in the pilot by the end of Q1 2024. This update comes on the heels of months of speculation around the seismic shakeup anticipated in job seeker behavior and recruitment digital advertising due to its release.
While Google didn’t give a formal explanation for the shutdown, others in the industry speculate the decision is related to staffing cuts at Google and competing development priorities. Previous market dominance abuse allegations against Google, as well as Google’s own apprehension around user experience issues in the recruitment space, are also thought to have played a part, according to Alexander Chukovski.
In 2017, Google set its sights on the jobs marketplace with the launch of Google for Jobs, which populated a widget with a job search experience when someone used a search query related to jobs or careers. That same year, Google launched an applicant tracking system called Google Hire, but that solution was sunset two years later. A monetization strategy was expected to closely follow the Google for Jobs marketplace release based on Google’s past verticalization strategies (i.e., travel, vehicle, consumer packaged goods (CPG)).
Google for Jobs organic marketplace user experience:
In terms of expected disruption, looking at some of Google’s past strategies can inform how a paid Google Job Ads marketplace might impact the recruitment advertising space. In 2019, for example, Google launched “Google Travel”. The Google Travel user experience claimed top-of-page real estate in the search engine results pages (SERP), where users are 10 times more likely to click as compared to below-the-fold placements.
Google Travel user experience:
Top players in the online travel space, like Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Expedia, began to see sharp declines in business growth that directly correlated to the timing of the launch of Google Travel.
Chart source: Forbes
When Recruitics first reported in March 2023 about the launch of Google’s Job Ad alpha testing, a similar disruption to the recruitment industry was predicted to unfold. At that point, beta opportunities were expected to roll out in April 2023, and later in the year, it was communicated that a full public rollout should be anticipated by Q1 2024.
So, what was different about Google’s approach to Job Ads?
Google designed its solution with a low barrier to entry from a technical perspective, allowing employers to create job postings without the need for an indexation of the industry standard XML feed.
Most job boards have historically been very job-centric in that the full multi-paragraph job description (legalese and all) is indexed and distributed verbatim to the job seeker in the SERP. Conversely, Google approached the job ad as just that, an advertisement, and as such, the job title was better thought of as a headline and the job description as concise ad copy designed to engage a potential candidate to click. This design lends itself particularly well to employers hiring for the same or similar roles in multiple markets.
With all that said, initial results for some alpha customers yielded high quality but an overall low volume of applicants.
With 73% of job searches starting on Google, the demand from employers is there. We are still hopeful Google will retool the backend technology for easy scalability and proceed with monetizing Jobs Ads in the future.
In the meantime, the organic job ad widget will still be there to create a bespoke experience for job seekers. Employers can best position themselves by ensuring they have a direct feed of jobs in the Google for Jobs experience. Regarding recruitment advertising dollars, search engine marketing (SEM) remains a top converting lower-funnel paid media channel that rivals, and can sometimes surpass, job boards in application volume delivery.
Google is indisputably the giant within this space, reaching over 80% of internet users in the United States and over 90% of global internet users through their Google Display Network.
Depending on the target audience demographic, there are some other channels employers may want to consider that have emerged as top sources to reach active job seekers. Microsoft Search Advertising, which operates through Bing predominantly, allows advertisers to utilize attributes within LinkedIn profiles, like Job Title, for example, as a unique targeting layer within a paid search campaign. We have seen Microsoft Search Advertising perform exceptionally well within the healthcare industry.
Note: Recruitics is actively pursuing participation in Microsoft Advertising’s beta program for their new Job Listing Ads product.
TikTok has also emerged as a top channel for internet searches, especially among younger users. According to TechCrunch.com, senior Google execs have acknowledged that search behavior among younger users has shifted in recent years to platforms like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search.
Note: Ad targeting capabilities are limited on TikTok beyond geography, so video content is paramount to drive successful campaign engagement.
Ultimately, source diversification is a crucial theme as employers think about how to invest their recruitment advertising dollars in 2024. If there is no other takeaway today, every employer should set aside a budget for Search Engine Marketing atop a programmatic job advertising budget and strategy to maximize active job seeker reach.
If you want to learn more about ensuring your job feed is directed to Google correctly and that you have an appropriate budget to garner active job seeker traffic through search engine marketing, contact us today.