Programmatic Advertising: a Better Way to Place Job Ads?

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Over the past seven or eight years, programmatic advertising has become the marketer’s best friend. Compared to other methods of buying ads, programmatic advertising delivers dramatically higher returns on investment, and it allows for a more targeted approach to placing ads in front of the right audiences.

It should come as no surprise, then, that more and more marketers are turning to programmatic advertising these days. According to predictions from MAGNA GLOBAL, global programmatic ad spend will reach $33 billion by 2017 — a threefold increase from 2013 levels of spending.

But if programmatic advertising is such a goldmine for marketers, shouldn’t recruiters — whom we are always exhorting to “think more like marketers”   — be leveraging the technology, too?

But First — What is Programmatic Advertising?

Before going any further, let’s take a moment to talk about what programmatic advertising is, exactly.

At the most basic level, “programmatic ad-buying is where software and data make decisions about where ads should be placed, rather than people,” says Chris Forman, CEO and founder of Appcast, a platform for programmatic recruitment advertising.

While many different methods of and platforms for programmatic advertising exist, in general, programmatic ad-buying can be likened to a stock exchange, but for ads.

“A company throws an ad into a platform,” Forman explains:

“They define the target audience they want to attract with this ad — ‘e.g., people in these 17 states that make over $200,000 per year and are single and subscribe to Gourmet magazine.’

“You then define what you are willing to pay for an advertising outcome (an impression, a click, a conversion).

“The software takes the ad, as well as the targeting and pay data, and puts it into a marketplace, like a stock exchange.”

At this point, the bidding begins: the software essentially announces the ad to publishers across the Web, and interested publishers bid on the ad. In a matter of milliseconds, the ad is snapped up by a publisher and placed.

So, Why Should Recruiters Care?

“The people that buy programmatic ads — what does it say on their business cards?” Forman asks. “It says, ‘Marketing.’ They wake up in the morning thinking about ads; they eat lunch thinking about ads; they go to bed thinking about ads. That’s all they do — and they’re finding that, through the use of software and data, they can do a better job.”

Recruiters, on the other hand, are, well, recruiters. For the most part, they are “business process professionals,” Forman says.

Recruiters do have a marketing component to their job — i.e., placing job advertisements — but they don’t eat, sleep, and breathe marketing.

“They probably think about ads for 1 percent of their day,” says Forman.

So then, wouldn’t recruiters — who are not marketing experts, by and large — be foolish not to follow the lead of professional marketers? These people have found that they see incredible results when they let data and software handle the buying and placing of ads. Why are so many recruiters still buying and placing ads the old way?

“Recruiters should focus on doing what they have a core competency in — working with hiring managers and working with job seekers to make the right match and get them in the door,” Forman says. “They should follow the lead of professional marketers when it comes to ad placement, and use software and data to drive the right placement of their ads — to drive the best return on their investments.”

What Does Programmatic Advertising Look Like for Recruiters?

HeartThe platforms that professional marketers use for programmatic advertising can be big, complex things. But recruiters — whom Forman calls “marketers 1 percent of the time” — don’t need such complicated platforms.

Programmatic recruitment advertising platforms can follow a simple flow:

  1. The recruiter loads a job.
  2. The recruiter sets a price they are willing to pay per applicant.
  3. The recruiter sets the number of applicants they want on a particular job.
  4. The recruiter sets a target audience for the job ad (e.g., “software developers in the San Francisco Bay Area”).
  5. The recruiter sends the job out, and the software takes care of the rest.

“It’s the difference between the cockpit of a 747 and the cockpit of a Tesla,” Forman says. “[The marketer’s programmatic advertising platform] has a about 1000 switches, [but the recruiter’s] has a ‘go’ button, a steering wheel, and an accelerator. The computer in the background does the rest.”

By Matthew Kosinski