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June 15, 2017 Job board programmatic advertising: Threat, opportunity or both? Mike Fahey, Executive Vice President

Job board programmatic advertising: Threat, opportunity or both?

So many acronyms - DSP, SSP, CPM, RTB, CPC, DCO, CPA, DMP - WTF.

Programmatic must be one of the most acronym-packed segments of online marketing, but it's also rapidly becoming the most important tool in display advertising. Programmatic has quickly captured market share from more traditional approaches to ad spend and shows no sign of slowing down. It doesn’t take much research to see the projected growth...

According to eMarketer reports, programmatic accounted for over 66% of 2016 display ad spend in the US and looks set to be over 70% in the UK in 2017

Before we look at what implications programmatic has for recruitment we should briefly define it, as it’s a term which means a lot of things to different people. Programmatic essentially means using software to automate the purchasing of advertisements, target the right individuals, get the right exposure for your message, and thus the right number of impressions.


In many ways programmatic is an evolution of CPC advertising and the recruitment market is excited (or nervous) because it could change the commercial model substantially. Recruiters could move away from the traditional pay-per-post model and towards the programmatic pay-per-performance model.

This is something markets such as the UK/US have long avoided, partly down to the structure and partly down to the desire to avoid change. Despite this, in recent years there are definite signs that the US is moving towards this newer model.

One of the benefits touted to marketers and advertisers on programmatic is an improved ROI, with a reduction in cost of acquisition of around 30% for candidates (Eremedia, 2016). This reduction in cost for the recruiter isn’t good news for Job Boards as it’s a potential reduction in revenue. 

There are a few approaches a Job Board can take to embrace programmatic:

1/ Connect to an exchange such as AppCast/Ripple/Recruitics:

These technology systems are similar to Broadbean multiposters in that they open your board up to be able to access programmatic marketplaces and become a publisher. An employer will plug in their desired job, application value and number required and the system will distribute the job programmatically to the boards it expects to get the best return from. Each supplier is subtly different in their approach and offering. 

2/ Combine Display Advertising options:

Traditionally (if that’s a term you can use with programmatic) display advertising systems such as DFP facilitate options to target users for several clicks and conversions. Several Job Boards offer these packages offline in conjunction with their traditional pay-per-post model to boost response and target specific users.

3/ Enable Programmatic-Post:

One of the challenges in offering programmatic is for smaller marketplaces, offering a few thousand jobs, the model is too threatening when revenue is made from pay-per-post. In these situations, consider a Programmatic-Post model, allowing you to configure your system to display targeted jobs until a suitable APV has been reached. This approach combines the pay-per-post model with elements of programmatic.

Supporters of the rise of programmatic point to how the recruitment industry follows the ad industry several years later, highlighting how CPC came to the generic ad industry before it was adopted by recruitment sites (albeit mainly aggregators).

A counter argument would be that CPC has never taken hold of the industry in a manner that would threaten the traditional pay-per-post model. Though, as employers become more sophisticated, and the number of programmatic exchanges become more prominent, the expectation may change.

The buying behavior of employers and recruiters will largely influence how much programmatic changes the recruitment landscape, alongside the movements of companies like Broadbean and more established Job Boards. If the pay-per-post model is under threat, Job Boards will try to push their CPC rate up for higher quality applications. No easy task, but certainly possible...

If you remain unprepared for a possible programmatic landscape then you risk your business, so try experimenting with the model and understand how it can help you grow. Employers will be open to the concept of programmatic, it’s still new and interesting; this is a great opportunity to help lead the way.

Here at Madgex we’re developing the capability to have certain slots/areas that calculate jobs to be shown based on a user's profile and the job's performance. This will enable our clients to offer pay-per-performance for certain employers and match the jobs to individuals’ criteria.

If you’re interested in attending our Programmatic Forum 2018 early next year, register your interest here and we’ll be in touch!