Andrew McCreadie at Guardian Jobs talks about programmatic and recruitment


Programmatic advertising is undeniably a buzzword within the recruitment industry at the moment, with widespread concern around brand safety counterbalanced with the attraction of targeted scale and ROI.

Although programmatic advertising is relatively new within recruitment, its trading capabilities have long been acknowledged in mainstream digital advertising. Programmatic as a medium has already been around for almost a decade, with its rapid evolution being measured in weeks and months rather than the years of past advertising channels. Some of the largest players in the market are yet to reach their 10th birthday: Open X was created in 2009 and Google acquired Doubleclick in 2008. The Guardian and Guardian Jobs have been selling inventory programmatically since 2010 and buying programmatic inventory on behalf of clients combined with our first party data since 2011.

While programmatic trading may still seem like the new big thing, bearing in mind over 70% of all digital display media spend will be managed this way this year, it is arguably already a ‘traditional’ medium. When you consider that Google is 18 years old and Facebook has only just hit its teenage years (13), then the idea of an advertising method that has been in use for over 10 years as ‘new’ is questionable.

Within the recruitment industry there hasn’t been the previous focus on programmatic that the B2B or B2C market may have had, but that has been down to the specialised nature of recruitment rather than any lack of desire for the industry to evolve. Recruitment has always been about getting the right person into the right job to benefit both the individual and the employer. The reach and scale that the original forms of programmatic trading offered simply didn’t fit the personal approach needed within recruitment. As technology has evolved, programmatic advertising has been increasingly able to adapt and ‘super-target’ users and their areas of interest (via the introduction of 1st and 3rd party data, keyword lists, specific media and publisher private marketplaces [PMPs], programmatic guaranteed deals, header bidding, server-to-server exchanges, etc) and thus become more relevant for campaigns to recruit jobseekers and students alike.

Last year we launched ‘Audience Match Extra’ or AMX, a programmatic product specifically for recruitment. AMX looks at jobseeker data from Guardian Jobs and buys programmatically across a vetted whitelist. The ability to optimise campaigns across a wide range of media using known data and measuring metrics other than just clicks has now become one of our most popular offerings.

On the subject of first party UNIQUE data the value of this within a programmatic environment has never been more apparent. Programmatic trading fundamentally works on an auction-based model with parties bidding for inventory based on the data that they know about that individual and the value that they place on advertising to that user. The true value of unique first party data comes into play when the publisher has in depth knowledge of a key audience that other vendors may not be aware of. While it is possible to buy databases of 3rd party data ‘jobseekers’ via a ‘Demand-Side Platform’ (DSP) or buying platform, as with any auction, if everyone is trying to target the same people the price will increase and the impact of advertising around those individuals diminishes, as they are more likely to be served an array of common recruitment adverts. Great datasets can be found when people look at publishers or partners that have their own data. For anyone with ‘programmatic’ on their media plan I would always suggest to ask what strategies are being put in place, what brand safety regulations are being adhered to and how the targeting has been thought through.

As we all know, online advertising is evolving at a pace never seen before and it is important to align yourself with publishers and buyers who are leading those changes and have experience and understanding of the complexities within the recruitment market as well as the programmatic ecosystem. Publishers like The Guardian have had to change over the last decade to a new way of doing business and will continue to stay at the cutting edge of new trading formats, such as programmatic. It’s time for recruitment to catch up.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

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Richard Collins Date: Jun 9, 2017

Worth noting the differences between the 2 types of programmatic: In recruitment terms Programmatic is about managing and Optimising Job advert bids on a pay per performance/click basis usually on the aggregator job boards such as Indeed and Adzuna. The problems that have been seen about brand safety and click fraud in the article, refers to network based advertising and retargeting. Ie where you do brand based advertising across a network of often unknown sites. Which whilst it can be used (and has a place) in recruitment marketing, is not what is usually referred to as programmatic for recruitment advertising. It is also not a very cost effective cost per application method, as it often isn't reaching people at the time they are thinking about jobs. Recruitment programmatic whilst using sophisticated alogorythms and Artificial Intelligence etc, does not use the real time ad exchanges that exist in the digital media world. And the Programmatic bit is about managing response levels by adjusting bids. Hope that helps anyone who might be getting confused between the 2.

Andrew McCreadie Date: Jun 9, 2017

Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. I respectfully disagree with some of your areas but do concede that there is a brand of 'programmatic' advertising which is in reference to Job board listing bids. I would disagree with the idea that this is what is commonly in usage when referencing programmatic for recruitment as the term programmatic really simply refers to the bidding and automation rather than the advert structure itself. With direct reference to your comment on network based advertising going across unknown sites. This may be the case with poor programmatic display elements and was certainly the case a few years ago but the market has moved on. Programmatic display advertising will contain brand safety risks if delivered in an unsafe manner, but any buyer that is looking at these issues seriously would't dream of advertising on an unknown website. The same can be said about general brand safety and presence. Yes it costs money to overlay safety measures, but given the implications it is something that any responsible buyer will be doing. The cost per application is certainly one for conversation and there are pros and cons to both sides of the market. For example, if you are only going to advertise across job boards then you absolutely hit the market currently looking for jobs, but you miss out on a huge opportunity for advertising to users that are interested in opportunities but are not currently in situ. Given the thousands of direct job applications that we have delivered when the start of the user journey has been a display programmatic element and the hundreds of thousands of applications that The Guardian has delivered over the years advertising to users who are not currently on job boards, there is plenty of data to have a good conversation around this. Programmatic advertising within recruitment works for both your example of bids per listing and the area that I was discussing around brand safe, controlled, honest trading within the display market. Thanks for making the clarity between the two, I appreciate your feedback.

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Andrew McCreadie at Guardian Jobs talks about programmatic and recruitment