Programmatic Advertising: Buzzword Breakdown

The current lifecycle of most jobs is pretty linear – write your post, spray and pray, see what comes back, repeat. That repeat step typically involves copying and pasting the same job description, posting on the same job sites and whining about the same ridiculous cost per applicant. Yet, we don’t change. It’s rare to hear about any distruption in that well-tested model.

It doesn’t help that we’re really just guessing when it comes to digitally advertising jobs. Most recruiters have 0 background on placing an ad, PPC, or even know what an impression really is. That leaves a lot of people guessing on where to advertise, what to say, where to be online and where to buy.  Then, the problem is compounded by blindly following lists and terrible webinar content versus doing our research or using the technology that’s available. I mean, the way you do things now works – at least eventually, right?

What we tend to forget by falling back on our fail-safe mantras is that our job ads are marketing our companies. They’re an opportunity in disguise, disguised by our philosophies and insistence that it’s “just a job.” The reality is that our job descriptions take passion and dull them into a bunch of adjectives and nouns that mean nothing to someone from the outside looking in. They focus on the work, not the demographic, psychographic and behavioral data that is so readily available with the addition of a few technology hacks like marketing pixels.

Science: Why Programmatic Ads Work

Shifting into a new mindset on marketing jobs starts with a scientific approach. What some might call an educated guess. Instead of researching “where to search for Java candidates,” it’s doing a search to find Java communities and comparing popularity. It’s about going to different corners of the cave and discovering new people versus following the path everyone else uses.

Then, it’s about testing that theory with marketing pixels (a little slice of code that tracks where people go from your site) to prove a strategy and see that someone is actually doing what we expect them to do and if not, where they’re going instead. It’s about refining and retargeting instead of using the same recycled model. We’re tapping into a data set that can help us make better budgeting decisions when it comes down to the whole “spray and pray” job distribution method.

Using just this top level data, we can make decisions. We can start to track paths and understand where our best candidates are coming from. That’s what programmatic is all about. Delivering impressions to people who might actually be interested instead of showing an ad to a million people who aren’t nurses.

That pixel I mentioned earlier delivers the big data we really need to improve and make decisions about advertising with more information. That is the definition of programmatic advertising. At its most fundamental level, programmatic advertising is the automated process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange. What makes it smart is all the intelligence and algorithms that go into making those display decisions based on activity instead of just a whim.

You’re probably wondering why you’d take the risk of trusting the computers to do your job, considering the current post and pray model might work. There are a lot of reasons, beyond just working smarter not harder:

  1. You can target your budget goals more closely – Programmatic advertising tools keep working even after you’ve booked the ad. It’s optimizing for applies instead of clicks and delivering measurable differences in ROI.
  2. It’s cost-effective – With programmatic, you have the ability to adjust your budget in real time based on results instead of pouring your money into one time buys that don’t work.
  3. You can gain more customer insights – Programmatic technology is constantly gathering data based on the type of candidates that apply to your jobs.
  4. It makes media buying easier– Stop sitting on calls with job ad vendors for hours while they try to swoon you with numbers that don’t mean anything. Instead, spend time focusing on the next steps and following up with candidates. You know, that whole candidate experience thing.
  5. It’s scalable – It’s easy to dial up with programmatic during seasonal hiring waves because it allows you to to reach a larger audience across multiple websites and touch points in a timely and efficient manner.



Photo Credit:

Online Strategy and Job Boards recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice Technology

Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

%d bloggers like this: