Programmatic Job Advertising: Full Guide

Pay-per-Click Advertising (PPC) allows employers to pay for job ads based on how much traffic they get (how many people click on them). Learn more about programmatic recruiting in this article.

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Unlike paying for ads based on how long they run, the price for PPC ads is also based on market value and real-time-bidding.

PPC is great for making sure job ads reach a lot of people, but it can also negatively affect recruitment outcomes, especially when combined with programmatic job advertising.

How CPC can vary in different countries

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Programmatic job advertising

Programmatic job advertising automates the process of creating, sharing, and analyzing recruitment advertising (most platforms do not automate the creation process, but Wonderkind does). It also attempts to optimize each step of this process along the way using things like A/B testing and AI.

It helps you share your job ads across multiple channels (Google, Facebook, job boards…) automatically. And, tests your ads, and the channels they run on, constantly in to improve your campaigns. Sounds great, right?

Yes and no.

Unless your tech takes quality into account, programmatic job advertising can result in a race to the bottom.

The problem with pay-per-click: quality

Pay-per-click ads are a staple for e-commerce marketers, whose goals are heavily based around conversion… i.e. they want to reach and convert as many humans as possible.

But, unlike with e-commerce, when it comes to job ads conversion is not always a good thing.

In recruitment advertising, we don’t want to convert everyone. We want to reach the right people, with the right skills, for the right job. We would rather reach 10 qualified candidates, than 100 unqualified people. Quality matters.

“The business impacts of a top hire is multiple times greater than cost-per-hire. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. For a small company, a five-figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business.”

Most programmatic job advertising technology sees conversion as a sign that the ad is doing a good job. So, the AI will optimize for cheap conversions, but lacks the understanding to optimize for the quality of those conversions. It ignores the quality of the applicants! To reach the right talent, it is crucial that programmatic technology gets feedback about the quality of applicants from applicant tracking systems.

“Without input about the quality of applications, programmatic job advertising becomes a race to the bottom.”

For example
We created an integration with, a pre-hiring assessment software company, to get input on candidate quality.

Wonderkind’s technology attracts the talent through targeted (programmatic) job advertising, then the leads from these ads automatically flow into Harver for assessment. Feedback from Harver then loops back to Wonderkind, so that our technology can improve targeting for future campaigns.

What about cost-per-hire?

A better performance indicator for programmatic job advertising is cost-per-hire because cost-per-hire tells us something about both price and quality. But, there are still some risks involved.

When low cost-per-hire is a key performance indicator for job ad technology, it has an incentive to avoid ‘expensive’ audiences. These audiences are expensive because they are highly-desirable to marketers (not just recruitment marketers). So, avoiding expensive audiences, can also mean missing out on groups of excellent candidates. Not a smart move!

The focus for job advertising, programmatic or not, should be on quality first.

What you should focus on

Technology that sees the whole story
To learn how to better reach applicants in the future, you need to know how people find you. What is the first touch point in your candidate’s journey?

Connection is key here.

You need to make sure that your ATS tracks where applicants come from correctly. If you haven’t already, invest in connecting your ATS to Google Analytics and your HR system. Doing this, will help you to see where applicants are coming from, and how they’re interacting with your job site.

For example
Wonderkind can track candidates from “view-to-apply” and “click-to-apply”. Our tech sees when someone views a job ad, and then eventually applies. Whether they’ve actually clicked on the ad (click-to-apply), or not (view-to-apply).

This technology isn’t perfect yet, because we can’t always follow people as they jump from one device to another. When Facebook launches multi-touch attribution (scheduled for sometime in 2018), we’ll implement their tech to track conversions across platforms, devices, and over time. This includes data outside of Facebook’s own platform!

Hire data experts to provide insight and look beyond the cost-per-hire
Great tech gives you great data. It doesn’t give you insight.

Data experts can look beyond the source of the application to see what actions people take leading up to applying. They can see what typically happens after people apply, and even look at what your candidates do after they’re hired. Then, they can turn these data points into a story, full of insight that you can apply to future recruitment campaigns.

The whole picture

Programmatic job advertising is an amazing innovation. It automates, it optimizes, it targets.

But, the technology we use is only as effective as the goals we give it.

We need to remember that quality is way more important than cost-per-click, especially when choosing (and programming) our technology. We need to make sure that the technology we use measures quality, and makes it a key performance indicator. Finally, we need to derive insight from the data our technology gives us so that we can understand the big picture. Only then can we draw valid, objective conclusions.

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