The single biggest misconception recruiters have about programmatic

March 12, 2020
Recruitment Advertising

When we go to industry events and talk about what we do at Talent Nexus, we’ve often found ourselves correcting a misconception which many people have about what programmatic for recruitment actually is.

It boils down to one big misunderstanding that makes programmatic hard to grasp. So we wanted to write an explanation, to clear up the confusion once and for all.

‘Programmatic’ can mean more than one thing

The confusion comes from the fact that the word ‘programmatic’ could really be referring to two different types of recruitment advertising.

Programmatic, as a word, is used simply to describe an automated approach to advertising online. That’s it. It literally means advertising that can be programmed.

There are countless examples of programmatic being used across all kinds of online advertising. Any advertising on Facebook or Google will use this approach – you’ll set some initial rules and objectives, and then the technology will automatically work out how to display your ads in order to get the best results.

What programmatic means for recruitment

So, there are many possible meanings.

But in the context of recruitment advertising, ‘programmatic’ is usually used to describe one of two things. This is where people often get mixed up.

One type of programmatic advertising refers specifically to automatically posting and managing job board advertising. That’s the kind of programmatic advertising we do at Talent Nexus. We use technology to automatically place and manage advertising across a wide range of job boards.

Some of the key benefits of this approach to job board advertising were explained by Ben Gledhill in the recent episode of the Recruiting Futures podcast about programmatic.

“You can really optimise how your budget is spent against the specific job advert. Because it's learning all the time about past performance to predict future performance, you get in a lot more candidates for your money.”

You can listen to the full interview here:

Since the people looking at job boards will usually be already searching for new opportunities, the audience here is composed of active candidates.

The other type of programmatic

The other type of programmatic advertising is more general, using advertising channels which aren’t recruitment specific, such as display advertising, PPC search advertising, or advertising on social media.

Recruitment content is still promoted on these platforms in an automatic way, using the rules and optimisations which are applied to the campaign when it’s published.

This is also programmatic, but it’s not recruitment specific.

Since the audiences who will be using social networks, search engines and general websites are much broader, it’s harder to know whether they are jobseekers or not.

So this type of programmatic advertising is often used when targeting passive candidates.

In the same podcast episode, Jon Hull outlined the benefits of using this type of programmatic for recruitment, drawing on his experiences at Nationwide Building Society.

“We’ve just used it [programmatic] as part of our graduate campaign and that's been really interesting. It’s quite easy to target people in terms of age and demographic, and arguably geography. It’s really resonated well to get the specific messages we want to target these people with on their Facebook feed or Instagram feed or Snapchat feed. And we get instant feedback so you can monitor on a daily basis, but we checked it weekly, getting a report on what works and what hasn't.”

Jon's interview is towards the start of the episode:

Know which one you’re talking about

The recruitment industry often mixes up these two different types of programmatic advertising. Each type has different advantages and use cases within candidate attraction.

So next time you hear someone throwing around the ‘programmatic’ buzzword, you’ll be able to work out which one they really mean.

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