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The recruitment advertising revolution: The rise of paying for performance

recruitment advertising

In the old days, all recruitment advertising was a waiting game. A hope-for-the-best exercise. You’d place an ad in a newspaper for a set period of time, wait, and hope that the right candidate would apply.

The internet didn’t change that. Not at first, anyway. Instead of a newspaper, you’d place an ad on an online job board for a set period of time, wait, and hope that the right candidate would apply. This was not-so-affectionately dubbed “post-and-pray” because there was no guarantee that the right candidate — or any candidate at all — would apply during the lifetime of the ad.

But it was all change when the job aggregators came along. Websites like Indeed, Adzuna and JobIsJob stormed the market with a fresh new approach to job advertising: instead of paying for time, you’d pay for results. It was called pay-per-click.

Wait — what’s a job aggregator and how does it fit into recruitment advertising?

Before we go further, let’s talk about what a job aggregator is, and how it differs from a job board.

The main difference is that job boards are like newspapers selling individual job slots, and will only display jobs that companies have paid for. Job aggregators, on the other hand, are search engines that gather all of a company’s job postings into one place and display them for free. All you do is provide them with data about your job postings (called an XML feed). Like Google, they will list your jobs in search results using an algorithm to determine which jobs appear first — these are called the ‘organic’ results. And like Google, you can then pay to appear in the sponsored results above the organic ones using pay-per-click.

Pay-per-click means instead of paying to have your ad displayed for a certain length of time, you only pay when a potential candidate clicks on it. The more you pay per click, the more prevalent your ad will be on the aggregator’s site.

And this is the other main difference, currently, between job boards and job aggregators. Aggregators usually offer pay-per-click, whereas job boards still offer post-and-pray. (However, this is changing, as more and more job boards are seeing the benefits of pay-per-click.)

And what’s so great about job aggregators?

We can think of 3 main advantages of using aggregators to display your job postings:

1. Access to a large audience

Job aggregators compile job postings in bulk, which means they play host to thousands more jobs than a traditional job board. As a result, Google ranks aggregators higher than job boards and puts aggregator jobs in front of a much larger audience. This is why aggregators are now used by job seekers more than any other method. A 2016 Global Job Seeker Survey found that 57% of UK job seekers rely on aggregators as their primary method for finding jobs.

2. Lower advertising costs

As mentioned above, it’s free to appear in the organic results on a job aggregator. You then pay to appear in the sponsored results using pay-per-click. And as you can imagine, pay-per-click is often a lot cheaper than post-and-pray on a job board; if only a small number of people click your ad, you’ve spent a few pounds rather than a few hundred pounds. In fact, research shows that recruiters who advertise using pay-per-click on job aggregators typically save around 50% of their advertising budget.

3. Faster and easier to use

With a job board, you have to upload one job at a time and remove, change or update each posting manually. With a job aggregator, all of the job postings on your website are fed through to the aggregator in one go via the XML feed. Then it’s a simply a case of deciding which ads you want to monetise using pay-per-click. You also don’t need to update your job postings on the aggregator’s site, because any updates you make to the posting on your own site will be automatically fed through to the aggregator.

There’s never been a better time to start recruiting with aggregators

Surprisingly, even though post-and-pray is years past its use-by date, most recruiters are still relying on it. In fact, we estimate that less than 10% of UK recruitment advertising is being allocated to job aggregators and pay-per-click.

This means the competition is low, presenting more savvy recruiters with an exciting opportunity to retain huge swathes of their advertising budget. As more and more companies realise the benefits of per-per-click, the competition will rise and so will click prices. That means the 50% saving you can make now will only decrease.

So the main message here is, if you’re a recruiter, start using pay-per-click job advertising fast — before the savings stop being this good.

But are there any downsides?

We’d be lying if we said that pay-per-click and job aggregators were perfect. There are a couple of downsides. While significant savings can be made on hard-to-fill job ads with pay-per-click, easy-to-fill roles can be more expensive. This is because you’re getting a ton of clicks on easy-to-fill jobs and paying for each and every one. With post-and-pray, you’re paying a set sum whatever the number of clicks. In effect, your spend curve is upside down and you have the opposite problem to what you had before, burning your budget on easy-to-fill and not having enough left for hard-to-fill.

Another downside is that you have no control over the amount of people who click on the ad and apply for the role. This means recruiters and HR professionals end up inundated with “craplicants” for easy-to-fill roles and have to spend huge amounts of time sorting the wheat from the chaff.

In our next blog, we’ll talk about how programmatic software solves these problems by tracking, regulating and optimising your pay-per-click ads. All you have to do is list your goals and press “go”.

About ClickIQ

ClickIQ’s automated job advertising platform manages, tracks and optimises the performance of your recruitment advertising in real time, focusing spend where it’s needed most to reach both active and passive job seekers across Indeed, Google, Facebook and an extensive network of job boards.

Follow Richard Collins on LinkedIn to explore of the latest developments in the sector and to learn how you can keep your Talent Attraction strategy ahead of the curve.

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