Tom Steele — an experienced talent acquisition specialist — wrote a column that proclaimed, “Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Dead.” His main thrust is that RMPs are on the verge of extinction because they are too cookie cutter, haven’t kept up with candidate behavior, add an extra layer of complexity to the recruiting stack, and haven’t experienced innovation. As a result, they aren’t returning the same ROI as they were five years ago.
Let’s start here: a lot of what Tom has written is correct. RMPs do add an extra step to an already long application process. Our data, gained from a longitudinal study of over 250,000 applications in 15 different industries, shows that 385 percent fewer candidates will submit an application that takes longer than five minutes to complete. Adding that extra layer of complexity isn’t going to win you many leads.
Most RMPs are not mobile friendly and can even deter mobile applicants. Over half of all candidate traffic comes from mobile, yet 98 percent of mobile candidates abandon their application due to poor mobile apply processes. In some industries, a candidate is 2,209 percent more likely to apply from a desktop than he is from a mobile device. If you’re paying for your advertising on a per-click basis, these abandoned applications will seriously undermine your ROI.
Where I disagree with Tom, is the narrow way that he defines RMPs. The author appears to have anchored his conclusions on the Recruitment Marketing Platform he built at Jobs2Web. And what he built was a talent pool platform. That’s a myopic way of defining things. Recruitment marketing is a much broader space, covering everything from job posting distribution to social recruiting.
Here’s one example. In recruitment media advertising — the area we play in — there has been an explosion of innovation over the past couple of years. I’m talking specifically about programmatic ad buying, an RMP for buying ad space that promises to deliver a dramatically higher return on your recruiting spend.
What is Programmatic?
Programmatic is the concept of using technology, not people, to cost-effectively target job seekers across the web based on their browsing habits. Human advertisers put in demographic details about their ideal applicant, set custom budgets, and hit ‘go’ — from that point, it’s automated. The software uses big data to place ads in front of candidates wherever they’re hanging out, whether that’s reading a niche blog or car shopping.
The key idea is that algorithms make better placement decisions than people to improve the return on advertising spend. Artificial intelligence has advanced to the level that it locates candidates at a precise moment of influence, showing them ads in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, based on their likelihood to engage with that job ad.
Who’s Using Programmatic?
In the U.S. right now, in our estimation, around 600 companies are actively using programmatic to drive their recruitment advertising efforts. This year, we expect to see programmatic explode in recruitment with at least a 25 percent adoption rate — up from the current rate of 5 to 9 percent — and very aggressive growth rates going forward. Within the next 3 to 5 years, it’s likely that 70 to 80 percent of all job ads will be placed in a programmatic platform.
What’s the Impact?
Programmatic is exciting because it’s scalable, it vastly improves the efficacy of job ads and reduces wasted spend. Look at some the benefits:
Programmatic delivers higher conversion rates at the job level: Programmatic surpasses the job post or any one board or media and automatically optimizes which publisher is used for the highest conversion rate for each job posting (“conversion” meaning a click on the job ad, a click-through to an application site, or a completed application). This is supported by a performance-based pricing structure which facilitates an increased return on advertising spend.
Programmatic taps into current candidate habits: Where job demand is outpacing talent, programmatic is your back door. It seeks out passive candidates and those who don’t want to search and apply for jobs, putting you ahead of the game in the hyper competition for talent.
It shows the cost of poor apply processes: Since performance and results are watched in real-time, it becomes very clear, very quickly whether you’re spending more money than average to get your candidate. Programmatic brings into sharp relief the cost of bad apply processes such as too-long applications and suboptimal mobile recruiting, and gives recruiters the tools to do something about it.
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Programmatic massively boosts ROI on recruitment spend: On a pay-per-click pricing model, you’re paying every time someone clicks on the job ad. You’ll likely receive more clicks, and pay more money, for the jobs that are easier to fill. So-called runaway jobs can eat into your budget, while few clicks come through to critical jobs that need more applies. Programmatic automatically shifts budgets to these harder-to-fill jobs, eliminating wasted spend. If you do the math, not only does this lower your cost-per-applicant, it also translates to a lower overall cost-per-hire as you spend less on advertising.
Real-time data enables smarter decision-making: In a pay-per-click environment, optimizing your bidding strategy can have a material impact on the total cost per application, or how much it costs to get an apply. For example, if you spend $1 per click and 5 percent of the people who click on the job apply, then you are spending $20 on each application. But if you spend 73 cents per click and 7.5 percent of the people who click on a job apply, then you’re spending $9.73 per apply — a 50 percent saving. Programmatic lets you run as many cost-per-application bid tests as you like to determine the effect of raising or lowering a bid has on your applicant volume and conversion rates, with the potential for huge savings.
It frees smart people from the grunt work: With programmatic, advertisers can buy ads the way they might buy something on Amazon, with just a couple of clicks. Instead of adding complexity, it actually decreases the labor resources usually associated with ad-buying operations, and frees up recruiters up to focus on creative and value-added activities.
RMPs Aren’t Dead, They’re Just Evolving
Talent Pool RMPs may well be in their laggard phase of adoption, as Tom suggests. But RMPs aren’t dead — programmatic is one of the bright spots, thriving to the tune of $32 billion a year in the wider digital marketing space. And where consumer advertising goes, recruitment swiftly follows. Over the next few years, we expect programmatic to become the standard for how digital job advertising is bought and sold, shifting and radically improving the effectiveness of millions of dollars’ worth of job advertising spend.
The fact is, recruiters see incredible results when they let data and software handle the buying and placing of job advertisements. Programmatic RMPs take the guesswork out of how to get the highest ROI from these efforts. More than that, they make it possible for recruiters to recognize the things that are frustrating their current recruitment processes, and do the things they should be doing to boost efficiency, like trimming the fat on apply processes. It’s pushing them to think more like marketers; about the best ways to leverage big data without becoming invasive. Programmatic makes omni-channel, data driven marketing possible. And that type of platform will never be “dead.”
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