Many companies have been re-evaluating their recruitment marketing plans this year. For those who are considering adding programmatic to their strategy and would like to learn more, here’s a breakdown of programmatic job advertising and the trends to look out for.
How would you explain programmatic job ads in plain English?
Programmatic advertising is the automated process of promoting job ads across a large network of job sites. For a traditional recruiter, I would say that programmatic job ads on pay for performance job sites function like a mini Google, where you’re able to present job ads that fit the job seeker’s search query on the aggregator’s search results page. Aggregators are what normal people would call “job boards,” but us crazy programmatic people call them aggregators. These aggregators bring in a ton of different job ads and allow advertisers, our clients from all different types of companies, to drive visibility to jobs they need applicants on.
Traditional duration-based job boards are when you pay a fixed price to advertise your job and wait for applications to hopefully come in. With this, there isn't anything that you can do to boost the visibility of your jobs that need more applicants, it’s based on real-time performance. On programmatic job sites, you no longer have to put the job ads out there and “come what may,” instead you can make the results look the way you want them to look -- allowing budget utilization to align with hiring priorities. You can push hard in areas you want to focus on, pull back on jobs with sufficient application volume, adjust the visibility of different jobs based on goals/performance, and focus on the areas that are most important to your organization at the time. Programmatic job ads use the performance data being recorded and automated rule-based buying to achieve goals.
A couple of the mantras I have for programmatic job ads are:
Total control of your budget: Automated rules can allow employers and staffing firms to stop spending on a campaign of jobs when a budget or application goal is met. This gives you control over how the budget is utilized and which jobs receive the most traffic.
Granularity: If a job isn’t performing well, you have the ability to automate increased visibility on just that individual job, so it can generate applications and meet your goals.
Make the results look the way you want them to look: Identifying areas of top priority to ensure media spend aligns with hiring goals.
Why do my jobs perform differently month-to-month even if I don’t make any changes programmatically?
When you're looking at overall performance (application volume and CPA), results vary month over month because of a shifting count of open job types in the job inventory. With a slightly different job mix month over month, metrics vary.
For example, maybe the number of open jobs by job category has changed. If you had 1,000 sales jobs one month and spent the bulk of your budget on them, and you have 260 sales jobs the next month, you’re going to see an overall return shift as more budget is spent on different job types than the previous month. The same scenario could play out if month to month, the locations you are advertising jobs in shifts from more populous markets that are easy to attract talent in tough to fill markets with fewer job seekers.
To better understand your overall results, you can look at the specific groups of jobs to see how those unique campaigns are performing. Each campaign has a different story essentially and contributes to the overall top line metrics.
What are some current trends in programmatic job advertising that we should know about?
Screening questions are a hot trend right now. Allowing employers and staffing firms to learn more about candidates prior to the completed application improves the ability to match a candidate’s skill set for the job. These screening questions would be presented before the job application. For example, a question could pop up and ask a jobseeker if they have the certification required for the job.
Another trend is how programmatic job sites are charging employers and staffing firms in the job seeker job search flow. Recently, some job sites have started to present a full job description to job seekers before charging the employers and staffing firms for the click.
This is leading to more informed job seekers since they’ve already learned about the job and will click “continue to apply” because they’re actually interested. This is also driving down cost per application for employers and staffing firms because the only job seekers continuing on are those who are fully informed about the opportunity. Previously, employers and staffing firms would be charged for those job seekers trying to get more information, and now they're only being charged after job seekers have already seen information about the job and want to move forward.
Are there recruitment or programmatic ad trends people should keep an eye out for in the near future?
I've got three trends. The first is the ability to enable what's being called “easy apply” or “quick apply” application solutions for job seekers. Easy apply allows job seekers to provide contact information easily and quickly, and allows employers and staffing firms to capture job seekers contact info without sending them to the ATS to work through the entire application process. The trend reduces friction in the application process, but means that companies are now pressured to handle an influx of submissions from people who have not completed the full application, and they need to be prepared with a plan for what they’re going to do with that contact information logistically.
Some questions that come to mind: do you need to instruct those job seekers to also complete an application? How is the information candidates share recorded internally? Companies now must have a plan in place for what they will do with job seekers’ information.
The second trend is managing how we hire candidates for remote work. Job sites, as well as jobs in general for that matter, were centered around city and state information, and now that's kind of all been shaken up and thrown out the window. The most troubling part to me is that all job sites are treating remote, work from home, and virtual jobs differently, which is creating a really fragmented landscape. Employers and staffing firms are worried that they aren't doing everything perfectly. The truth is, there’s not going to be a perfect or objectively correct process for dealing with this. For example, one vendor could say “write the word ‘virtual,’” in the city field and another could say “write the word ‘remote’” in the job title.
Since there’s no standard way, you're not going to be able to please every job site, and you're not going to be able to perform on each of them perfectly. To work in this fragmented landscape, you have to work with your vendor reps and your agency to figure out how to best represent virtual/remote opportunities. I also recommend identifying which job site is of most importance -- the source that you get the best results from -- and cater to what they require. Since there’s no standard way and you're not going to be able to please every site, do what’s best for your company to drive visibility to those jobs and get applicants in. This is a topic that a lot of people want an easy and quick answer to, and it's not possible.
My third trend is the rise of “End-to-End” analytics to make fully informed decisions. Tracking down funnel metrics, not just applications, is a massive evolution of programmatic job advertising. It allows us to make smarter media buying decisions based on candidate quality from job sites by analyzing how many hires or placements a source has generated and to which job types. For example, if after over a year, you identify that zero tech hires were made from one specific aggregator, you can make a media buying decision that you’re not attracting top tech talent from this source. Therefore, you can reduce or stop spending on tech jobs at that source, and free up budget for use on job types that are performing well. Using hire data and down funnel metrics to analyze and understand media source performance is incredible.
Are there any instances where programmatic job ads would not be a wise solution? How can you ensure your company will succeed with programmatic job ads?
To get the absolute best out of programmatic job advertising, I would really only advise using it when you also have a rule-based buying platform/tool. Otherwise, you're advertising using an ad unit that charges employers and staffing firms each time it gets clicked on, but you have minimal control over the job ads. Employers and staffing firms need a way to manage and effect change in the ads behavior based on the real time performance they're generating.
With a rule-based buying platform in place, you can make the results look the way you need them to look to reach your hiring goals. Without that, it's very hard to generate desired performance. For example, you're going to have the popular job types clicked on like crazy and eat up the majority of your budget. This means that the tough to fill jobs that need applicants aren’t getting the proper visibility they need, and the jobs are not being engaged with by enough job seekers to help your recruiters make hires. It’s easy to have a lot of engagement on popular job types, which is great, but also means you could blow through your budget quickly. So without a rule based buying platform, I don't recommend using programmatic job advertising to manage a large job inventory.
Adding programmatic job advertising to your recruitment marketing plans can help your company, but it's important to make sure you have a data-driven mindset -- so you can understand what your data is telling you and make the best decisions based on it.