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.



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Online Strategy and Job Boards recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice Technology

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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